Hedgecutting ban comes into force as bitter debate continues over its future
From today, hedgecutting and upland burning in Ireland is prohibited until September as debate rages over new proposals to shorten the closed seasons.
Currently it is illegal to cut, remove/destroy hedgerows and burn vegetation in our uplands between March 1 and August 31 in order to protect breeding birds.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and the Gaeltacht (AHRRG), Heather Humphreys is working to push the 2016 Heritage Bill through the Oireachtas which includes proposals to change the dates for hedgecutting and upland burning which are contained in the Wildlife Act.
The Minister is proposing a two-year pilot law with a rollover clause which would allow hedgecutting in August and burning in March which gives farmers and landowners a 7th month for these activities.
The issue is before the Seanad again this week and debate over the issue is likely to be heated.
The bill was introduced in the Seanad and passed the first stage in January 2016 before the Oireachtas was dissolved in advance of last year's General Election.
Environmentalists say the proposed new season's are times when birds are attempting to nest, lay eggs and raise their young.
Opposition to a proposal now includes a petition of over 26,000 signatures.