Four hundred and seven farmers were identified by the Department of Agriculture as having burned land declared on their 2019 Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications.
The burning related to 164 land parcels which covered 895ha.
The processing of cases is ongoing and, currently, 114 farmers have had financial deductions made to their BPS payments, totalling €90,210, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson told the Irish Farmers Journal.
At that rate, the average payment deduction was almost €800/farmer.
Donegal had the highest number of burned land parcels with 70 last year. It was followed by Mayo with 37 and Kerry with 32. See Figure 1.
It is illegal to burn land in Ireland between 1 March and 31 August under the Wildlife Act. Landowners risk prosecution, fines and potential imprisonment. Since 2010, eight prosecutions have been taken by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht for illegal burning.
Burned land is not eligible for payment under the BPS and other area-based schemes and the inclusion of illegally burned land in a BPS application may result in reduced payment and penalties under this scheme and the other area-based schemes, such as the Areas of Natural Constraints scheme. Illegal burning can also render neighbouring land ineligible for payment.