The deadline for clearing forest land ends today, after being extended due to the covid-19 pandemic, so the owners, in case of non-compliance, are subject to infractions, with fines between 280 and 120,000 euros.
In this context, the National Republican Guard (GNR) begins, as of Friday, the phase of inspection of the forest cleaning works, already accounting for the “identification of 23,968 situations in default”.
In response to Lusa, GNR indicated that the breaches identified in the cleaning of the forest are the result of “an extensive monitoring / awareness plan for the 1,114 priority parishes” due to the high risk of fire, which involved 670 non-priority parishes.
At issue is the deadline for carrying out land clearing operations, which ended on March 15, but was extended until April 30, by decision of the Government on April 2, following the decree-law that established exceptional measures and temporary covid-19 disease pandemic.
In addition to this extension of the deadline for cleaning the forest, the model for preventing and fighting forest fires may undergo “new adjustments”, as the covid-19 pandemic evolves, said the Secretary of State for Internal Administration, Patrícia Gaspar, at a parliamentary hearing on April 16 at the Assembly of the Republic in Lisbon.
“There is no clear model to tell us how the situation will be on the ground in 15 days or a month from now, so we may still have to make further adjustments as the situation evolves,” said Patrícia Gaspar, within the scope of the parliamentary hearing to provide clarification on land clearing and fire prevention in this exceptional period of covid-19.
Despite the extension of the deadline, “around 24,000 non-compliance situations have already been identified”, said the Secretary of State for Internal Administration, explaining that this information was transmitted to the municipalities, “so that there can be a work of proximity, to raise awareness of these people, for the imperative need to clear the land “.
“As of May 1, GNR will begin inspection in priority areas”, including in 1,114 parishes with a high risk of fire, pointed out the minister, noting that “what matters is not passing fines”, but rather signaling land that needs to be cleaned, so that this can be ensured together with the municipalities.
On April 2, more than two weeks after the date of March 15, the Government announced the extension until April 30 of the deadline for the owners to ensure the cleaning of the forest land, in the scope of the renewal of the state of emergency due to the Covid-19.
“It is important not to forget that the country has an enormous risk of forest fire and that this risk requires a major cleaning effort”, emphasized the Prime Minister, António Costa, explaining that the decision to extend the deadline aimed “to create better conditions so that people can fulfill this obligation, taking into account the strong movement limitations that exist “.
According to the law of the National System for the Defense of the Forest Against Fires, after the deadline to ensure the management of forest fuel, the owners are subject to fines, in case of non-compliance, ranging between 280 and 120,000 euros.
In view of the non-compliance by the owners with the deadline for cleaning land, city councils must ensure, until May 31, that all fuel management works are carried out.
In case of non-compliance with the deadline 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 of the Secondary Networks of Fuel Management Bands.