The Department of the Environment did a U-turn on the burning of bushes on farms last week, with a derogation now in place to burn green waste until 28 February.

Farmers are allowed to burn waste, such as bushes and hedge cuttings, until the end of the month and then again from 1 September.

The Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue announced that the derogation was secured at a meeting of the Oireachtas committee on agriculture last week.

The announcement came following outrage from farmers

He said that Minister for the Environment Eamon Ryan would be providing the derogation, adding that it is “an important management tool” for farmers when used in a balanced way.

The announcement came following outrage from farmers, and indeed county councillors, when permits granted by local authorities to burn this waste on farms, which were issued in January, had to be revoked.

The derogation falls under the Waste Management Regulations 2009 and had been granted numerous times over the last number of years.

There will be no exemption during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife

However, it was not renewed this year. This, in turn, was not communicated through the appropriate channels, as local authorities continued to grant permits.

The Department of the Environment stated that “it was not envisaged that the exemption would continue indefinitely”.

“The sunset clause in the regulations, whereby the granting of exemptions would come to a definite end at a specified time, has been extended on four different occasions in the past. There will be no exemption during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife, which runs from 1 March to 31 August,” it said.

It is understood that the derogation will not extend beyond 1 January 2023 and both the Departments of Agriculture and Environment are to “examine alternative options to the practice of burning of this waste”.

However, solutions are needed as local authorities have described how landfills could be overwhelmed by this waste, while carbon emissions would also be emitted in transport or with mulching.

The Irish Farmers Journal has sought a further clarification from the Department on whether farmers can continue to apply for a permit to burn such waste after the February deadline.