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Tuesday 21 November 2017

Protesters abuzz over planned hedge-cutting laws

Sisters Aisling (6), Róisín (3) and Laoise (8) O’Morain from Sandymount, Dublin, and members of Beekeepers Ireland protesting outside Leinster House against the Heritage Bill 2016. Photo: Tom Burke
Sisters Aisling (6), Róisín (3) and Laoise (8) O’Morain from Sandymount, Dublin, and members of Beekeepers Ireland protesting outside Leinster House against the Heritage Bill 2016. Photo: Tom Burke

Alan O'Keeffe

Endangered birds are being put in further jeopardy by a proposed law that promotes the destruction of their habitats, angry protesters claim.

They warned that the curlew and the yellowhammer species, once plentiful, will suffer further serious decline under proposals to allow farmers to burn vegetation during March and to cut back hedgerows during August.

Bumblebees and many types of wild honey bees will also suffer by extending the permitted times to cut down vegetation and flowering wild plants, claimed protesters who gathered outside Leinster House.

Arts and Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys introduced a Heritage Bill in the Seanad that would extend hedgerow cutting times to seven months.

Speaking on the issue earlier this year, Ms Humphreys said: "I'm trying to strike a balance here. Hedgerows and scrubs are important for wildlife and I also want to collect more information on this during a pilot period."

But Alex Copland, of Birdwatch Ireland, said: "Curlews begin seeking nests and breeding territories in March and they will not breed if the vegetation is burned. Curlews are facing global extinction. There are only 125 pairs of curlews left in Ireland."

Endangered: A curlew
Endangered: A curlew

Senator Alice Mary Higgins said the Heritage Bill "seems more like an anti-heritage bill".

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An endangered yellowhammer
An endangered yellowhammer

Irish Independent