'U-Turn on hedgerow cutting will endanger human life'
The Government's move to scrap plans to allow roadside hedgecutting in August has provoked a strong reaction in some quarters.
The Minister for Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan said the decision recognises the increasing threats to biodiversity nationally and globally and follows a number of Government initiatives to protect and nurture Ireland's flora and fauna.
However, independent TD Mattie McGrath claimed the Minister had yielded to pressure from groups that are more concerned with the safety of birds than preventing tragic and avoidable accidents due to dangerous or excessive hedgerow growth.
"This is an anti-democratic, dangerous and ill-conceived concession from a Minister and a government who are proving yet again that they are totally clueless about the reality of living in rural Ireland.
"The way the Minister has approached this issue is to suggest that farmers or land owners have been, or will be, going out of their way to deliberately destroy the natural habitats of nesting birds in hedgerows.
"Nothing could be further from the truth.
"What this issue is about, and what it has always been about is simply granting greater flexibility to people who live in rural Ireland when they need to cut back dangerous and visibility obscuring hedgerows," he said.
The Government’s move was welcomed by An Taisce who highlighted that apart from providing critically important habitats for birds and other species, hedgerows are also important in maintaining pollination for the wild bee population.
Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce, the recognition by the Minister of the seriousness of this issue is very welcome, and we would hope that it could be a clarion call to other government departments to give biodiversity loss the consideration it urgently requires.
“This is great news for hedgerows in 2019, but we would like to see a guarantee that hedgerow cutting in August will not be permitted in other years.”
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