The Heritage Bill was a 'trivial waste of taxpayers money that won't do farmers any favours' says leading dairy farmer

Dairy farmer and leader of the BRIDE biodiversity project, Donal Sheehan from Castlelyons, Co Cork.
Dairy farmer and leader of the BRIDE biodiversity project, Donal Sheehan from Castlelyons, Co Cork.
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

The newly passed Heritage Bill won’t do farmers any favours, a dairy farmer has warned.

The Heritage Bill which was passed last week will allow for the burning of vegetation such as gorse in March and the cutting of front road facing hedge-cutting in August.

Dairy farmer and founder of the Bride biodiversity project Donal Sheehan from Castlelyons, Co Cork feels the Heritage Bill sends out the wrong message to consumers about the work farmers do.

“Farmers come under enough pressure from the likes of the Go Vegan campaign and get blamed for causing loss of biodiversity and our carbon footprint is supposed to be high, the passing of the Bill just adds to the pressure and sends out a bad signal to consumers.

“Farmers do want to become more sustainable and are interested in biodiversity. This just  sends out a bad message to the public,” he said.

Donal also feels that the Bill was a “trivial waste of money” that wasn’t a top priority amongst a lot of farmers.

“It was a waste of tax payers’ money and I never heard of it spoken at any farm organisation meeting. There was no need for it. Farmers need to be more open to going green and it shouldn’t be viewed as restrictive,” he added.

Donal says it was his interest in beekeeping that saw him become more interested in biodiversity issues and feels balance is needed when approaching the environment on the farm.

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“As a beekeeper you’re aware of the Importance of wildflowers and how the bee needs them to make honey. There has to be balance, if you leave your land go wild you won’t be able to make an income. It’s just about making more vacant habitat sites available,” he said.

Bride Project

Donal and Midleton tillage farmer Paul Moore founded the Bride Project with ecologist Tony Nagle.

The project  provides  participating farmers with farm habitat plans that identify the most effective wildlife management options for individual farms. Farmers will be paid for their conservation actions. The higher the flowers in your hedgerow the higher the payment for farmers.

Donal said the project is exceeding their expectations with currently 65 farmers involved and more looking to get involved.

“We hoped for 20 farmers in the first year and then for 50 in the second year but we already have 65. It’s great. Farmers can’t do everything but they can all do something.”

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