‘Putting lives at risk’: Delay in Heritage Act changes slammed

There is “massive anger and frustration within rural communities” over news that recent changes to the Heritage Act will not be in place for at least another year, according to independent TD Mattie McGrath.

“To say that there is huge disappointment around this news is an understatement,” the deputy said, reacting to the confirmation that the cutting of roadside hedges is to remain prohibited this month.

Also Read: Cutting of roadside hedges to remain prohibited next month

“It was understood by almost everyone involved in this issue that once the Heritage Act 2018 was signed into law, which it was in mid-July, then the provisions allowing for hedge-cutting at the start of August would be in force.

“We now understand that the minister and her department had no intention of facilitating this change and have instead told us that it will be at least 2019 before draft regulations are in place.

People’s lives are being put at risk for every day in which there is a delay in allowing the cutting of overgrown and dangerous hedges or vegetation.

“Some of the roads I have travelled on recently are places where the hedges are almost meeting each other in the middle of the road and where stop signs are completely obscured,” deputy McGrath added.

The independent TD for Tipperary accused the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan and her officials of “failing to grasp that this is an immediate public health risk”.

Continuing, he said: “The act has been signed and it must be allowed to be used as a legal basis for rural communities and contractors to get on with the vital work that needs to be done.

“Further delays are totally unacceptable,” deputy McGrath concluded.

Exemptions

The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) also commented on the situation in a statement on social media, noting:

Roadside hedges may be cut during August 2018 where there is a road safety risk as defined under the Roads Act 1993 where landowners are obliged to keep roadside hedges cut for road safety reasons.

“Local Authorities must prove the safety case for hedge-cutting for road safety reasons to the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS) if required or face prosecution by the NPWS,” the contractors’ association said.

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