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Burnt Hawthorn and Gorse near Lacken, Co Wicklow. Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage Press Office

Wicklow landowners fined €1,000 each for setting gorse on fire out of season

Burning living vegetation during the closed season is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976-2018.

TWO PEOPLE IN County Wicklow have been fined for burning vegetation out of season last year.

Kenneth and Pamela Balfe, landowners at Gap Road, Lacken, Co Wicklow, were both issued fines of €1,000 after they pleaded guilty to the offence at Naas District Court, Co Kildare today. 

Burning living vegetation during the closed season is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976-2018.

A National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger told the court that on 17 April 2021, he responded to reports from concerned members of the public that scrub and trees were being burned at Lacken.

The ranger travelled to the area where he could see smoke and flames beginning to arise from Gorse bushes.

The ranger talked with the landowners who admitted starting the fire, but denied any wrongdoing.

Judge Desmond Zaidan said that “it was unbelievable that as landowners the defendants would think that burning living vegetation was appropriate and that they wouldn’t know of the restrictions”. He proceeded to fine them €1,000 each.

Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan TD welcomed the prosecution and said that wildlife crime is a serious offence.

“The National Parks and Wildlife Service has never been more focussed, or more effective, on tackling wildlife crime. It has successfully closed 25 prosecutions to date in 2022, and is currently progressing a further 44,” he said.

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