Fine increase for not clearing your French garden to prevent wildfire

As fines rise for non-compliance we explain who is affected and how to claim a tax credit for the work

In an affected area 10m should be cleared on each side along private roads or tracks leading to your home

MPs have voted to introduce tougher fines for people who do not clear the ground around their homes in areas at risk of forest fires.

The fines apply to people who do not carry out this obligatory débroussaillement.

Fines will rise from €30 to €50 per square metre of land requiring débroussaillement, to limit spread of wildfires in areas at risk.

It comes as lack of proper clearance was blamed for a massive fire in forêt de La Teste, Gironde, last year, which destroyed 7,000ha and meant 20,000 people were evacuated.

Opposition MPs had argued that better communication was needed instead so that homeowners are aware of their obligations.

Read more: France wildfires: MPs vote to hike fines for not clearing your garden

Which areas are affected

The obligation mostly applies to Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Corse, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie, and Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur.

The rules might differ between departments in the same region, and some other departments that have forests or woods at risk might also require it.

To check if your property is affected visit the official website.

If you are in an affected area, and your property is situated within 200m of woodland, you are usually required to clear and cut back vegetation across a 50m radius around your home.

Along private roads or tracks leading to your home, 10m should be cleared on each side.

Local decrees might modify the rules – check with your mairie or prefecture.

Read more: Forest fire risk in parts of southern France raised to ‘very severe’

50% tax credit if you employ someone to do it

If you pay someone else to carry out the work, you can benefit from a tax credit of up to 50% of the cost, within certain limits, if you employ them via the Cesu system or use a firm with Services à la personne accreditation.

If you ignore the rules, your mairie can serve a formal notice period in which you must complete the work, and can impose a fine of up to €100 for each day that you fail to do so, as well as the €50 fine per square metre.

You also risk a criminal fine of up to €750.

If the failure allows a fire to spread and damage another person’s pro­perty, this can rise to a year in prison and a €15,000 fine.

MPs also voted to ban smoking within 200m of forests during high-risk periods.

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