A Kildare farmer has been ordered to pay €2,500 for hedge-cutting which was found to be an offence under the Wildlife Acts, according to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
On Monday March 1, a farmer from Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, appeared before Nass District Court charged with two offences under the Wildlife Acts.
The case was prosecuted by Gareth Robinson BL instructed by state solicitor Sharon Murphy. The case was taken on behalf of the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.
The defendant was also charged under Section 69 of the Wildlife Acts for aiding and abetting the Section 40 offense. The man in question pleaded guilty to both charges.
Kieran Buckley, a conservation ranger with the NPWS, outlined to Judge Desmond Zaidan at Naas District Court, that on the day of the offense he observed a significant amount of vegetation had been destroyed in an area near Dunmurry House.
He told the judge that the farmer cut the vegetation at a “particularly sensitive time of the year when young birds are still in their nests” – and which are hidden among vegetation.
Judge Zaidan said he was aware that there was a lot of this type of activity going on and wondered why it cannot be done outside of the nesting season, to protect wild birds.
The judge also noted the high level of public concern surrounding the cutting of vegetation during the bird nesting season and asked Buckley was this act carried out with malice.
Buckley explained to the Judge that the defendant told him that he was “tidying up the place” and he claimed the defendant seemed indifferent to the consequences of his actions.
When asked by the judge what were the costs, Robinson replied €1,000. The judge revised this figure to €500, plus vat.
Defence council told the court that her client who farms land in Dumurry was prepared to make a charitable donation of €1,000.
Judge Zidane replied that this figure was insufficient.
The judge found the facts of the case proven and applied the Probation Act to the farmer. He asked Buckley to nominate a wildlife charity.
The Irish Wildlife Trust were nominated as the recipients of the fine imposed.
Commenting on the value of hedgerows, Padraig O’Donnell, regional manager with the NPWS, said: “Around the country, hedgerows which have been growing for hundreds of years are being wiped out.
These have been growing out and supporting huge biodiversity but once they are destroyed they are gone forever, as is the biodiversity that depended on them.
Everything from birds to mammals to insects to plants. They are a source of food and shelter and one of our most important habitats.
He urged people observing loss to contact the NPWS by sending an email to [email protected] outlining their concerns and providing evidence where possible. “Wildlife Act enforcement relies on evidence,” he noted.