Hedge cutting will still be banned as usual from March 1st until August 31st.
Section 8 of the Heritage Bill would allow for the burning of vegetation in March and the cutting of hedgerows in August on a pilot basis for two years.
The bill has been met with strong opposition from conservation groups, the general public and politicians.
Last year, a petition calling on the government to reconsider the changes by An Taisce, Birdwatch Ireland, Irish Wildlife Trust and the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland received over 11,000 signatures in just four days.
There is a real fear that section 8 of the bill would have a catastrophic effect on several species of conversational concern dependent on hedgerows as a habitat.
They were keen to stress that the minister’s proposals would “not help with increased hedge cutting for road safety concerns. While there are provisions already in the existing legislation to allow hedge cutting for road safety, it will not ensure that those who should cut their road side hedges actually do cut them.”
Instead, they are calling for the establishment of a proper hedgerow and upland management regime that words for farming, road safety and wildlife.”
In the previous Seanad debate on the matter, Fianna Fail Senator Brian O’ Domhnaill described the bill as being “muddled up” while Green Party Senator Grace O’ Sullivan was also skeptical about its actual effects. Having consulted landowners members of the IFA and farmers she didn’t believe an “extension to the cutting and burning season is a priority for the majority of the people.”
Senators have proposed changes calling for a national baseline survey to be carried out to collect data on hedgerows and countryside biodiversity.
Legislation allowing for the extension of burning in upland areas and hedge cutting should not be initiated until the baseline survey is completed, published and considered. This, they claim, would help, “inform the protection of biodiversity and of other aspects of the environment including the consideration of appropriate closed season dates for burning vegetation and cutting of hedgerows.”
5 reasons why our hedgerows are important
Flip the cards below to find out to read more on why our hedgerows are worth protecting.