Regulations have been signed to provide for an extension to the exemption allowing for the onsite burning of agricultural green waste in certain limited circumstances.
The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations were drafted by the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications following consultation with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The regulations extend the exemption for the burning of agricultural green waste, which expired on January 1, 2023, until March 1, 2023.
The exemption is then reopened for a final three-month period from September 1, 2023, to November 30, 2023, to allow the agricultural sector to deal with waste accumulated in the interim.
Under the 2009 regulations, the burning of household, garden, commercial or industrial waste is not permitted.
An exemption under the legislation, which has allowed farmers to dispose of waste generated by agricultural practices by burning as a last resort following strict application of the waste hierarchy, has been extended on several occasions.
However, it was never intended that this exemption would extend in perpetuity and this will be the final time such an extension will be granted, the departments said.
The decision to extend this exemption for one final time arose from the recommendations made in a recent study, commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, to examine alternative measures to the burning of agricultural green waste within the Irish context and assess the practicality of such alternatives.
This study, which was prepared by the Irish Bioenergy Association, notes that there are a number of feasible alternatives available to sustainably manage this waste material.
The report notes that: “The primary concern from the burning of biomass in open field burn piles, compared to within combustion appliances for heat, is in the pollutants that are given off through combustion, which can then have negative impacts on health, air quality as well as the environment, including the production of greenhouse gases.”
Officials from both departments will now work to examine a range of measures to ensure that the appropriate communication, awareness-raising, and knowledge-transfer measures are in place – to support the agricultural sector in making a successful orderly transition to alternative sustainable management practices, they said.