Controlled Burning Practices

The Wicklow and Dublin Uplands have seen a rise in the extent and frequency of unregulated burning in recent years, highlighting a greater need for controlled burning practices to be implemented.


Uncontrolled Burning in the Wicklow Uplands

There is a perception that burning vegetation within the permissive season is ‘controlled’ while outside the season is ‘uncontrolled’. This is not the case. Controlled burning refers to the practice of burning smaller areas of vegetation on a rotational basis. This practice creates a mosaic of vegetation type and structure and supports greater biodiversity. The burns are not intense and do not damage the underlying peat structure.

The practice also requires that notice is given to adjacent landowners and the local Gardaí. Burning areas greater than 5 ha within a designated area requires prior written consent from the NPWS. Uncontrolled burning, regardless of the time of year, is destructive and poses a serious threat to property, public safety and can cause extensive damage.


Conducting a Controlled Burn

Below, is some documentation to advise and assist in the planning and implementation of a Controlled Burn.



Controlled Burning and The Heritage Act 2018

Having lobbied successive governments to extend the permissive period that allows for controlled burning of upland vegetation, Wicklow Uplands Council welcomes the introduction of The Heritage Act 2018.

Importantly, the current legal period to undertake controlled burning remains from the 1st September till the 28th February. However, the new Act provides for an extension to the current permissive period into March should conditions such as adverse weather require it. This extension is being operated on a two year pilot basis and is subject to Ministerial approval.

Wicklow Uplands Council regards the Act as a crucial opportunity to highlight the need to create permanent changes to the legislation and we call upon landowners to adhere to the legislation and not to presume that the extension will automatically be extended into March.

Wicklow Uplands Council would like to reiterate that it supports the use of controlled burning and the provisions of the new Act which will allow for the practice in the month of March. The opportunity to effectively manage upland vegetation within a realistic season, is vital for many upland farmers and it will also play a very important role in the successful implementation of the SUAS project.


Controlled Burning Groups

In the Study to Identify Best Management of Upland Habitats in County Wicklow, it is recommended that local fire management groups are established to support good practice when conducting a controlled burn.The objective of their establishment allows for the improvement to the productivity of the hills while preventing damage to biodiversity, forestry, private property and public safety. Groups would comprise of farmers and representatives of regulatory authorities to implement fire management plans for their local area supported by training for those involved.