‘Significant rural anger’ at hedge-cutting proposal scrapping

There will be significant anger and frustration within rural communities following confirmation that proposed regulations permitting the commencement of certain provisions of the Heritage Act are to be scrapped, according to independent TD for Tipperary Mattie McGrath.

Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan confirmed that plans to allow for hedgerow cutting during the month of August have now been abandoned in support of moves in “favour of protecting nature and biodiversity”.

“This is an anti-democratic, dangerous and ill-conceived concession from a minister and a Government which is proving yet again that it is totally clueless about the reality of living in rural Ireland,” the Tipperary TD said.

The way the minister has approached this issue is to suggest that farmers or landowners have been, or will be, going out of their way to deliberately destroy the natural habitats of nesting birds in hedgerows – nothing could be further from the truth.

The TD stressed that the issue has always been about granting greater flexibility to people who live in rural Ireland when they need to cut back dangerous and visibility-obscuring hedgerows.

“We agreed that this was the case when the Dáil passed the relevant amendments of the Wildlife Act and following a review of Section 40, which included proposals that were announced in December 2015.

“Section 7(2) of the Heritage Act 2018 also provided for the cutting of roadside hedges only during the month of August and under regulations.

Now the minister has yielded to pressure from groups that are more concerned with the safety of birds than preventing tragic and avoidable accidents due to dangerous or excessive hedgerow growth.

Deputy McGrath claimed that Minister Madigan “has absolutely zero sense of the urgency surrounding this matter for rural Ireland and indeed for local authorities”.

“How the minister and her officials have utterly failed to grasp that this is an immediate public health risk is beyond me,” concluded deputy McGrath.