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The burning of waste is an illegal practice and is an offence under the Waste Management Act, 1996, as amended, the Air Pollution Act, 1987 and the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations, 2009.

The burning of waste includes a wide range of activities, and it is important that members of the public understand what activities are not acceptable, why these activities are not acceptable, and the dangers posed to people and the environment by committing such activities.

The exemption for agricultural green waste burning ended on the 30th November 2023.

Prohibition of waste disposal by burning

Burning of waste is a term that covers the following scenarios:

  • Householders burning waste in their own yard or garden, either in an exposed pile or in a barrel also known as ‘backyard burning’.
  • Burning of waste from construction sites.
  • Burning of cut tree limbs, hedge clippings or other green waste resulting from landscaping/gardening works.
  • Burning of commercial and/or industrial waste.
  • Burning of waste in open fires, ranges and other solid fuel appliances within one’s home, i.e. using waste as an alternative fuel source.
  • Using rubbish burners that are sold in shops nationwide. These are also called garden/home incinerators.

People tend to burn waste in an effort to dispose of waste in a manner they perceive to be practical and convenient, however, it is important to understand that the burning of any waste arising from routine activities such as housework, gardening, construction, etc. is an illegal practice, and is damaging to both human health and the environment.

Burning of waste in bonfires at Halloween and other times of the year is prohibited.

Burning of waste essentially involves low temperature fires which receive little oxygen and produce a lot of smoke. Under such conditions toxic substances are readily produced and released into the atmosphere to be subsequently inhaled by people and animals and deposited onto land and vegetation.

There are other means of dealing with household green waste such as hedge clippings, tree branches, etc. Garden shredders may be used and the shredded material could be used as mulch or mixed with compost. Alternatively, householders may bring their green waste (e.g. hedge clippings, grass cuttings, Christmas trees, etc.) to designated recycling centres operated by Clare County Council.

Burning of agricultural waste

The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 makes it an offence to dispose of waste by burning. An initial five-year exemption was provided for the permissible disposal of waste by burning where it was done as a final measure after the preferred alternatives had been assessed, the local authority was notified and the material to be burned consisted only of uncontaminated wood, trees, tree trimmings, leaves, brush, or other similar waste generated by agricultural practices. This exemption has been extended on several occasions. In early 2023, the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications announced that the practice of burning agricultural green waste was to end on the 30th of November 2023.

Why has the burning of green waste ended?

To improve the sustainable management of agricultural green waste which will:

  • Improve air quality and human health
  • Better utilise material for sustainable alternative uses
  • Enhance and promote biodiversity  

What are the sustainable practices to replace burning?

In November 2022, the Irish Bioenergy Association on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine developed a feasibility study on the sustainable management of agricultural green waste in Ireland. This report outlines many sustainable alternatives to burning which farmers are permitted to use, including: 

  • Use of flailing and return the cut material to the ground in-situ
  • Establish a nature pile/biodiversity habitat corner allowing the material to decompose over time
  • Produce sustainable wood fuel for own heating use on-farm
  • Composting of the material on-farm
  • Off-farm energy generation from high quality, large volume, uncontaminated material
  • Use of the material for animal bedding
  • Produce landscaping material
  • Biochar production

Agricultural Green Waste Leaflet [PDF, 5MB]

Burning of Agricultural Vegetation Leaflet [PDF, 1MB]

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Further information

If burning waste creates environmental damage, nuisance or gives rise to pollution, the advice is: do not burn. If in doubt, contact the Environment Section, Clare County Council on (065) 6846331.

Any queries in relation to the enforcement of the Wildlife Act, 1976, as amended, should be directed to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Ennis on (065) 6822711.

Information on the Agri-Climate Rural Environment Scheme (ACRES) [PDF, 687KB] is also a useful reference.

Page last reviewed: 01/03/24

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Environment Department
Clare County Council
Áras Contae an Chláir
New Road
Co. Clare
V95 DXP2
(065) 6846331
Fax: (065) 6846444
Opening hours
Monday - Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.