Illegally burnt agricultural or forestry land must be removed from 2017 Basic Payment Scheme applications, according to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The burning of land during the closed period – March 1 to August 31 – is deemed illegal, the Minister of State at the department, Andrew Doyle, said.
Agricultural and forestry land which has been burnt illegally will not be eligible for payment under the BPS scheme, or any other area-based schemes, he added.
Farmers who have included illegally burnt land in their 2017 BPS applications, which have already been submitted to the department, should now remove this land, Minister Doyle said.
Meanwhile, recent wildfires throughout the country have caused significant damage to substantial areas of agricultural and forestry land and are currently under investigation.
The Department of Agriculture is using a wide range of satellite imagery to investigate all recent incidents of illegal burnings.
“Officials in my Department are currently analysing a wide range of satellite imagery to identify land which was burnt illegally during the specified closed season for burning,” said Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Andrew Doyle.
“Historic satellite imagery is also being examined as part of this process. Agricultural and eligible forestry land identified as burnt illegally as part of this investigation will be deemed ineligible for payment under the 2017 Basic Payment and other area-based schemes.”
“My department will not tolerate incidents of illegal burning of land and will take all necessary actions to ensure compliance with the conditions of the various EU funded area-based schemes, including reducing payments and penalties where applicable,” he said.
The most devastating wildfire of recent weeks took place in the Cloosh Valley in Co. Galway. Emergency services battled the blaze that raged for days, resulting in an estimated loss of some 1,500 hectares of forestry and 1,000 hectares of bogland.