Burning waste and vegetation

Can I burn waste at home?

Burning waste in your home or garden is illegal, as it can release harmful chemicals into the air. It is illegal to burn household or garden waste in any way, including:

  • In a barrel or exposed pile in a yard or garden
  • On a bonfire
  • On an open fire, range or other solid fuel appliance
  • In a mini-incinerator

Note: Garden incinerators and similar devices are illegal, even if they are attached to a stack or flue.

This is an offence under:

If you are convicted of burning waste in your home or garden, you can be fined up to €5,000.

Why is burning waste illegal?

Burning waste in your home or garden can release toxic dioxins into the air. This can affect the air around you and may upset your neighbours.

For example, paper waste can contain synthetic materials and disposable nappies contain gels, bleaches and plastics.

As well as contaminating the air, the by-products of low-temperature, uncontrolled fires can become airborne and can then fall on and contaminate near-by soil and vegetation.

Fires can also get out of control very easily. If you see any out of control or unattended fires, you should report it to the Fire and Emergency Services on 112 or 999.

Find out how to safely dispose of your household waste.

Can I burn wood in my garden?

It is illegal to burn any waste in your garden, including wood. Many wood products are treated with toxic chemicals to prevent them from rotting. Burning them can release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere and damage the environment.

You can get rid of wood at a civic amenity site.

Can I burn plastic?

It is illegal to burn plastic at home or in your garden.

In general, plastics can be put into your green bin and recycled. Find out more about how to dispose of plastic products.

Can I burn farmyard waste?

It is illegal to burn farmyard waste. There was an exemption which allowed farmers to burn agricultural green waste, such as untreated wood, bushes or leaves. However, this exemption ended 30 November 2023.

Organic material can be composted at home or on the farm. You can get rid of wood at a civic amenity site.

Other farmyard waste

Farmers can bring farm plastics to a bring-centre to be recycled including material such as:

  • Silage wrap
  • Fertiliser bags
  • Animal feed bags
  • Chemical drums (these must be triple rinsed)
  • Bailing twine

The Irish Farmers Association (IFA) has a useful guide on managing waste (pdf).

Controlled fires and burning vegetation

Landowners sometimes use controlled burning as a way of managing land, for example, by burning off old vegetation to promote new grass growth.

Landowners can carry out controlled fires on uncultivated land from 1 September to the last day in February each year. This is only allowed if it is done in a controlled manner and the landowner follows the correct safety procedures. Uncultivated land is land which is not normally farmed or managed.

Planning a controlled fire

If you plan on carrying out a controlled burn, you must have a burning plan (pdf). This will include information such as:

  • The location of the planned burn
  • When the burn is due to happen
  • The conditions under which the burn can got ahead
  • The objectives of the burn
  • The people involved
  • The equipment to be used
  • Health and safety precautions

Gov.ie have a useful document on the prescribed burning code of practice (pdf).

You should always let the local fire department know when you are planning a burn and when the burn is over and the fire is extinguished.

You should only carry out a burn if the weather is suitable, with light or no winds. Met Éireann have a Fire Weather Index which you should check before planning a fire.

If you are burning vegetation within a mile of woodland, you must let both the Gardaí and the owner of the wood know in writing at least 7 days before you end to you plan the fire. The owner of the forest may object to the fire.

Can I burn uncultivated land outside the allowed period?

You are not allowed to burn uncultivated land between 1 March and 31 August.

If you burn land between 1 March and 31 August, you could:

  • Be prosecuted and fined up to €63,490, face a prison term of up to 2 years, or be both fined and imprisoned
  • Be ineligible for certain schemes (such as the Basic Income Support for Sustainability scheme)
  • Have your payments for certain schemes reduced

There may be more restrictions if your actions damage a:

  • Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
  • Special Protection Area
  • Natural Heritage Area

If you see any out of control or unattended fires, you should report it to the Fire and Emergency Services on 112 or 999.

What can I do if my neighbour is burning waste?

If your neighbour is burning waste, you should:

  1. Talk to your neighbour about the situation and ask them to stop burning their waste
  2. If you are unable to resolve the issue with your neighbour directly, you should contact your local authority
  3. If the issue remains unresolved, you can contact the National Environmental Complaints Line on 1800 365 123. You can also use the mobile app, ‘See It? Say It!’ to report the issue.

How can I safely dispose of my waste?

Most areas have an organised household waste collection service. If you decide not to use an organised waste collection service, you can dispose of most of your domestic waste by recycling and home composting. You can also use civic amenity centres or landfill sites.

Your local authority can advise you on waste disposal and recycling facilities in your area.

For farmyard plastics, you can bring them to a bring centre or else organise a collection. You can read more about what to do with farmyard plastics at farmplastics.ie.

More information on burning waste

Read more about burning waste on the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

You can check air quality in your local area on AirQuality.ie.

Page edited: 29 February 2024