Battle to stop new law damaging Ireland’s wildlife continues in the Seanad

Published by Ian Carey on

November 18th  2016

Irish Senators are continuing to strongly object to proposed laws which will allow extended hedge-cutting and scrub burning.

The bill which will allow land owners to cut hedgerows and burn scrub in uplands for an extra month will damage wildlife experts have warned.

Yesterday Senators continued to question Minister for Arts and Heritage Heather Humphreys over her plans and a number have proposed amendments to the bill.

Members of Seanad Eireann who have lead the charge asking for amendments on environmental grounds have been David Norris (IND), Kevin Humphreys (LAB), Grace O’Sullivan (GP), Lynn Ruane (IND), Alice Mary Higgins (IND) and Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin (LAB).

Speaking during the debate Senator Norris reiterated the point that there is no scientific evidence to support Minister Humphrey’s argument for the bill.

“The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said not to do this until you have the scientific evidence,” he told the Seanad.

“BirdWatch Ireland and An Taisce area all singing from the same hymn sheet. It’s obvious that we should await the proper scientific information.”

The bill will be debated before the Seanad again next week.

The current Wildlife Act does not allow the cutting of hedges from March 1st to August 31st as this is the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife.

Minister Humphrey’s wants to allow the hedge-cutting season to include August.

Environmental groups say that the changes in dates would seriously impact a number of species in Ireland which depend on hedgerows.

Four environmental groups have led the campaign to oppose the changes. The Irish Wildlife Trust, The Hedge Laying Association of Ireland, An Taisce and BirdWatch Ireland gathered over 25,000 signatures in opposition to the changes.

The campaign ‘No to More Slash and Burn’ in continuing to raise signatures.

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Ian Carey

Ian is the editor of the Green News. He works as Communications Manger with the Irish Environmental Network.