Council to adopt zero tolerance approach to back yard burning

Mayo County Council will adopt a zero tolerance approach to back yard burning under new legislation enacted by the Department of Environment this year.

Seamus Granahan, director of services for the council’s environment section, told the members of the environment SPC that the council will prosecute anyone caught burning household, commercial, or farming waste. Mr Granahan went on to say that there is a special exemption for farmers until 2014, they can burn certain farm waste as long as they notify the county council of their intention to do so and they get approval from the council. But there will be to tolerance for anyone caught flouting the law.

Padraig Joyce, representing the Irish Farmer’s Association on the SPC, questioned what steps farmers would have to take if they wished to burn waste. Sean Smyth, from the environment section of Mayo County Council, told Mr Joyce that it would have to be clean farm waste, without accelerants, and that the farmer would have to give an undertaking that it is his/her last resort to burn rather than dispose of it in any other way.

Westport town councillor Myles Staunton asked the council executive what steps the council took when it came to prosecuting those who engage in burning waste. Mr Smyth told the meeting: “The council usually gets a complaint from someone and sends out either enforcement officers from the environment section or the litter wardens to investigate, and if they can find evidence of a breach of the law they will prosecute the individuals. The legislation says that no one can burn now, expect for farmers covered under the exemption. We had fly overs there a while ago to see if we could detect anything.”

Fine Gael councillor Henry Kenny told the meting: “Personally, I think the issue of backyard burning has died down from what it was. There was a time when every second house was doing some kind of backyard burning, which even I myself did at times, but I will have a lot of documents to start shredding from now on.”


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