Fire season: GNR doubles down on investigating non-compliance in clearing land, imposing fines
The National Republican Guard (GNR) today announced that they will be doubling down on the inspection of forest land following the end of the government-defined land clearing period, which was previously extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, threatening fines of between 280 and 120,000 euros.
“So far, 23,852 non-compliant situations have been identified, already communicated to the respective municipalities, with a greater incidence in Leiria, Castelo Branco, Viseu, Coimbra, Braga, Santarém, Vila Real, Viana do Castelo and Aveiro”, said the GNR, in response to the Lusa news agency.
With the beginning of the inspection of forest lands “the priority of the GNR’s activities will be in the 1,114 priority parishes” due to the high risk of forest fires, and the approximately 24,000 non-compliances identified through risk proceedings, punishable by fines of 280 to 10,000 euros, in the case of natural causes, and from 1,600 to 120,000 euros, in the case of arson.
At issue is the deadline for carrying out land clearing operations, which ended on 15 March, but was extended, by decision of the Government, first to 30 April and then to 31 May, following exceptional and temporary measures concerning the pandemic.
On April 16, after the first extension of the deadline for clearing land to April 30, the Secretary of State for Internal Administration, Patrícia Gaspar, said that the model for preventing and fighting forest fires could undergo “new adjustments”. Operation Floresta Secura 2020 started, as in previous years, “with a strong awareness campaign”, in which 3,572 awareness interventions were carried out throughout the country, which reached 55,044 people”.
According to the National Association of Forestry, Agricultural and Environment Companies (ANEFA), regardless of the extension of the period for cleaning forest land, this year there was less action from landowners to do the job, fearing, therefore, “great catastrophes ” this summer.
“If the factors that were observed in 2017, in terms of climate change, of all these peaks that arise from heat and winds are combined, we will face major catastrophes this year, I have no doubt of that”, said the president of ANEFA, Pedro Serra Ramos, underlining that the clearing of land is a “fundamental problem”, which goes beyond the question of the deadline.
In view of the non-compliance by over 24,000 identified landowners with the deadline it is up to the city councils nationwide to guarantee, by June 30 the execution of all works.
In case of non-compliance by the municipalities, “the following month, 20% of the twelfth of the current transfers from the Financial Equilibrium Fund (FEF) are retained”, according to the Exceptional Regime for the Secondary Networks of Fuel Management Bands.