Hedgecutting during August STILL an offence say Environmental Pillar

Published by Dave Brooks on

July 29th, 2016

The Environmental Pillar have reiterated that it remains illegal to routinely cut hedges during the month of August.

In a statement released yesterday, the advocacy coalition of 28 Irish NGOs have reinforced that under the Wildlife Acts, it is illegal to routinely cut hedgerows during the closed period, which begins on March 1st each year and continues until the 31st of August.

Commenting on the vital role that intact hedgerows play for wildlife during the month of August, Policy Officer at BirdWatch Ireland and spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar, Oonagh Duggan said: “Hedgerows are hugely important for birds and other wildlife especially for providing places for nesting, for food and for shelter. Several species of birds nest in hedgerows right through August and into September. One of these is the Yellowhammer whose populations have reduced dramatically due to habitat loss. Hedgecutting outside of the current legal period could push these birds further towards extinction. Our birds are an integral part of natural heritage.”

Almost 20,000 people have signed a campaign to oppose changes in proposed legislation which would reduce existing protections and allow for cutting of hedgerows in August in the future. Despite the opposition to these proposals, this Bill could be re-introduced by Minister Heather Humphreys in the autumn. At present, however, the existing protections are still in force.

Neil Foulkes of the Hedge Laying Association of Ireland called on the Minister to revisit her proposed bill and to engage in proper stakeholder consultation saying: “The proposed changes to section 40 of the Wildlife Act have not been assessed scientifically in terms of their potential impact on biodiversity and no details of the proposed pilot have been made public. Significantly no baseline studies of wildlife have been conducted to help inform the process. We need to come up with a Sustainable Hedgerow Management plan for Ireland, which works for farmers, biodiversity and sustainable land management.”
The public are being encouraged to report suspected illegal cutting that is taking place for reasons other than under the exemptions provided for in the Act. Lorraine Bull, Development Officer with the Irish Wildlife Trust said: “If people suspect illegal cutting is taking place, please report it to your local Gardaí or National Parks and Wildlife Service Ranger. They will need details of the date, time and location, and, if possible, a photograph or video for evidence. As August is a particularly crucial month for wildlife, we must ensure that the relevant laws are enforced to help protect vulnerable wildlife species.”

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Dave Brooks

Dave works as Communication Assistant with the Environmental Pillar. His background is in psychology and he has a masters in Environmental Psychology from the University of Surrey.