Shane O'Loughlin, Chair of Wicklow ICMSA, has confirmed that the Association has made a submission to the National Parks and Wildlife Service calling for very substantial amendments to be made to the laws regulating when and in what circumstances hedgerow habitats may be cut and maintained.
ICMSA, the state's specialist dairy farmer organisation, has proposed that the current 'Closed Period', during which it is illegal to cut hedgerows for fear of disturbing nesting birds, should be shortened by a calendar month and run from March 1 to July 31, as opposed to the current 31 August.
The Aughrim farmer said that the most up-to-date research all indicated that birds have left their nests by the end of July and he feels it is no longer tenable for Irish farmers to be prohibited from maintaining hedgerows and possibly breaching the cross-compliance rules governing the Basic Payment Scheme (formerly, the Single Farm Payment).
'Farmer's have done everything we can and jumped through every environmental hoop but we have a situation in both hedgerow cutting and burning on both enclosed and unclosed lands where we now know for certain that the duration and timing of the closed periods are unnecessary. They should be amended to keep up with the scientific research and make it somewhat easier for farmers to comply with a what are already onerous environmental regulatory frameworks,' said Mr McLoughlin.