A CORK community group has voiced concerns over the lighting of gorse fires after the county fire service was called to 10 wildfires in the past five weeks.
The Stop Gorse Fires group was set up by Green Party representative Rory Jackson over 12 years ago to campaign for an end to the practice.
The burning of vegetation is legal in Ireland but not between March 1 and August 31, as per the Wildlife Act 1976 and the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000.
However, some climate groups are worried about the effect on natural habitats and local communities, especially with last month being one of the driest Januarys in Cork in recent history.
“If you can see it, you can breathe it and, sadly, with the recent dry weather we are seeing a relentless amount of fires being lit,” Mr Jackson told The Echo.
“I understand that we’re within the legal season at the moment and I think it’s important to point out that landowners are encouraged to clear their land to stay eligible for grants - and for smaller landowners, burning might be the only way they can do that.
“But it causes massive damage to our biodiversity, it's harmful to communities living nearby, and all too often it puts huge pressure on the fire services.” Cork County Fire service said that it has responded to 10 wildfires so far in 2022.
If controlled burning is being planned, the fire service requests that Fire Service Control be informed at least 24 hours beforehand.
It is also legally required to inform Gardaí at least seven days in advance if burning will take place within one mile of woodland and burnings cannot take place within 50 feet of a roadway.
“Do not burn in exceptionally dry periods where strong or variable winds are forecast,” the service recommends.
“Start early in the day. Keep fires small. Burn in sections. Individual fires should not be allowed to exceed 50m wide if adequate control of the fire is to be maintained.”