Councillor Willie Clarke On Gorse Fire Strategy

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[/caption] Councillor Clarke said, “The emergency services, particularly local fire crews, should be commended in the professionalism they display when dealing with these incidents. However, malicious fires place a massive strain on very limited resources.” He added, “The cost to NI Water is estimated to be in the region of £500.000, this does not take into account the environmental damage downstream in our rivers, the cost of emergency services or the wider environment damage. There will be damage to the activity tourism and accommodation sector also. “There needs to be a co-ordinated response from DOE, DARD, NI Water Health and public safety and the Justice Department; we need to see a collective response with a sharing of resources; to look at best practice to reduce the impact of these fires in the High Mournes. “These should include the establishment of fire breaks, to reduce the Fuel load of the dry vegetation, in addition it is essential that proposed grazing in the water catchment area is central to the management plan. “This tragedy could be a blessing in disguise; if it produces a cross-departmental strategic response into ensuring that the scale of these fires never happens again. “The PSNI need to be proactively investigating these environmental crimes, those responsible need to be assured that these type of crimes will not be tolerated by society”, added Councillor Clarke.]]>

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