‘Landowners already have six months a year for hedgecutting’

Ahead of the Seanad’s debate on the Heritage Bill on Wednesday, the Irish Wildlife Trust has called on people to contact their senators and urge them to submit amendments to the Bill.

The proposed legislation under the bill is to allow for hedgecutting during August and burning at certain times on a two-year pilot basis, under strict criteria.

While the majority of landowners and farmers are in favour of the changes to the hedgecutting dates in the bill, the Irish Wildlife Trust has come out strongly against changes to it.

A spokesperson for the Irish Wildlife Trust said that the trust is calling for amendments to the Heritage Bill and that in its current form, it’s damaging to wildlife and needlessly so.

“What we’re asking for it a more progressive bill,” the spokesperson said.

A video released this week by the trust said that “in a landscape with little native woodland, Ireland’s hedgerows are a vital refuge and corridor for wildlife”.

Many of our upland habitats are of international importance, but the Irish Government wants to change the Wildlife Act to slash our hedgerows during August and burn our uplands into March.

The video goes on to say that birds nest well into September and that hedgehogs, bats and butterflies rely on hedgerows for food.

It claims that bees, which are already declining, will be badly affected.

The Irish Wildlife Trust says that landowners already have six months a year to cut hedgerows and burn vegetation.

On the issues such as overgrown hedges impacting on roads, the Irish Wildlife Trust has said that the road safety around hedgerows is already covered under current legislation.

Meanwhile, an online petition, to the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, called ‘no to more slash and burn’ has garnered over 25,000 signatures to date.