Closed period for hedge-cutting and gorse burning comes to an end

The closed period for both hedge-cutting and gorse burning comes to an end in the coming days for a period of six months.

Farmers will be permitted to carry out hedge-cutting and gorse burning from Saturday, September 1.

Last month, the Heritage Bill passed through both houses of the Oireachtas for the final time and it was sent to the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to be signed so it could be passed into law.

The bill includes provisions for a two-year pilot period to be introduced, whereby roadside hedges could be cut during the month of August and some gorse burning could be carried out in March – once certain criteria is met.

In a statement released at the end of last month, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said: “The general provisions of the Heritage Act 2018 in relation to the introduction of a two-year pilot period whereby roadside hedges may be cut during August will not be in force in 2018.

Any such cutting will require the making of regulations by the minister in the first instance. These regulations cannot be made this year.

Due to this, the existing provisions in the Wildlife Acts on hedge-cutting remained in force for the month of August.

As it stands, the closed period for hedge-cutting and gorse burning will come into force again on March 1, 2019. Once regulations are formulated by the department, some gorse burning will be allowed during the month of March.

‘Disastrous’

Meanwhile, reacting to the passage of the bill, Dr. Elaine McGoff – a natural environment officer with An Taisce – said that the bill “will be disastrous for the wildlife of our uplands and hedgerows, and comes at a time when wildlife is in trouble across the globe”.

The Irish Government should be leading the way in protecting our wildlife, but instead has chosen to take a huge leap in the wrong direction.

“The basic research data to support this bill is conspicuously absent. The passing of this bill is very obviously based on the views of the large farming lobby, and nothing to do with fundamental science,” Dr. McGoff concluded.