Hedge feud - controversial legislation which will extend hedge-cutting season
Farm organisations and conservationists are on collision course over legislation that would extend the hedge-cutting season
Farmers should be free to cut back roadside hedges all year round on safety grounds, a leading contractor association has warned.
As frustrations over delays in progressing proposed changes to hedge cutting laws mount, farm organisations are calling on the Government to “act immediately”.
However, conservation groups say the proposals are “completely unjustified” and claim the move could potentially “wipe out” endangered bird populations nationwide.
The current law prohibits cutting, grubbing or burning of vegetation on hedges or ditches during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife , from March 1 to August 31.
Under the proposed two-year pilot changes to Section 8 of the Heritage Bill, put forward by the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, ‘managed’ hedge cutting would be allowed during August under strict criteria.
Controlled burning would also be legal in certain areas around the country during March if necessary.
The measures are designed to introduce a limited amount of flexibility to help with land management.
However, any burning and cutting will be subject to strict conditions and restrictions specified in statutory regulations to protect fauna and flora.