Calls made for ‘breathing space’ on hedge-cutting and slurry

A rural-based TD is calling on the Government to extend the deadlines for hedge-cutting and slurry spreading, as farmers face “huge pressures” due to the weather conditions.

Mattie McGrath, an independent TD for Tipperary, has written to Josepha Madigan, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to ask for an extension to the March 1 deadline for hedge-cutting.

He said that farmers and contractors had expressed concern to him personally over the heavy rains, saying that the conditions have “significantly hampered” their capacity to engage in hedge-cutting in accordance with the current regulations.

Farmers in many parts of the country have to deal with huge pressure over the last few months.

“On top of those pressures, they are now facing additional severe challenges that have been created by the heavy rainfall,” deputy McGrath remarked.

“All they are asking for is a small bit of breathing space to enable them to cut those hedges which may be presenting as a threat to road safety – but within a more flexible time-frame,” he added.

According to McGrath, a previous move by Minister Madigan not to allow hedge-cutting in the month of August “hampered farmers’ ability to cut back dangerous and visibility-obscuring hedgerows”.

That is why it is even more important that this March deadline is extended.

“I will also be asking the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, to ensure that there is equal flexibility around slurry spreading deadlines, given the growing problems that are emerging with farmers being unable to have slurry spread on wet land,” McGrath stressed.

“What slurry is being spread is draining off into rivers. That is not what farmers want. We just need common-sense to prevail here, and for some degree of reasonable latitude to be provided,” the TD concluded.