NO to extended hedge-cutting laws, protect Irish wildlife.

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Wild birds belong in the wild , farmers don’t seem to accept that. Save our wildlife.

Are there not enough animals being killed  by farmers.?

 

People’s lives cannot be put at risk for the sake of birds, Independent TD Danny Healy-Rae said in the Dail recently while discussing hedge-cutting amendments to the Heritage Bill. “With regard to all the talk about birds, I do not object to birds, bees or any other wildlife. However, there is a place for them.’ The people who support the wildlife cannot put other people’s lives at risk for the sake of birds. The country is wide enough for the birds to nest.

 

The Heritage Bill proposes to allow the cutting of hedgerows from August 1st each year, rather than from September 1st. It also extends the winter period during which upland habitats could be burned until March 31st.

Currently it is illegal to cut, remove or destroy hedgerows and burn vegetation in our uplands between March 1 and August 31 in order to protect breeding birds.

Minister Humphreys said the provision was being proposed to harmonise road safety and wildlife legislation.

The Bill, sponsored by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, was strongly criticised by Opposition Senators, and also by wildlife and conservation groups.

It allowed the cutting and grubbing (removing from the roots) of all hedgerows during August. This would not have been confined to hedgerows near roads but to all hedgerows surrounding fields.

Some species of birds will still be nesting in August and could by physically destroyed by the cutting. The Yellowhammer, which is “red-listed”, would still have chicks in their nests in hedgerows at that time of year.

The cutting would also be detrimental in August to other birds, bats and bees who are still using the hedgerows for their wildflowers and fruit. The other damage would be the removal of a food source from species that are already in decline. During these months, birds are trying to lay eggs and raise chicks and other wildlife, such as bees and hedgehogs, are still dependent on these ecosystems.

Farmers, however, are in favour of the bill. The Irish Farmers' Association lobbied senators last year to ensure its progress. According to Thomas Cooney of the IFA, the proposed measures to extend hedge cutting and gorse burning on a pilot basis, must be immediately introduced.

“They are balanced and will facilitate better land management and road safety,” he says.  A reason this Bill has been proposed is to allow for cutting of hedgerows in August for ‘road safety reasons’ but there already exists legal exemptions to the Wildlife Act to allow cutting where there are road safety issues.

A total of 27 wild fires were recorded by the Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) during the bird nesting season in 2016.Information received from the National Parks and Wildlife Service show that only one of these fires received the required permission.

Farmers who disturb birds, their nests, or eggs deliberately disturbed at any time but particularly during the nesting season, whether by burning or cutting vegetation, are in breach of cross compliance rules, and will have their EU payments reduced if this is detected during an inspection.

This bill was brought in under the guise of road safety. described as “complete and utter fraud” by Fianna Fail TD Thomas Byrne. We all put road safety first but there is no road safety issue in this case. We already have a Roads Act which allows for the cutting of hedges for the sake of road safety. There is no reason to change the law on the grounds of road safety.

It simply allows certain vested interests – these vested interests were very few because no farmer I asked was looking for this provision – to take over legislation and use road safety in a fraudulent way to essentially give free rein to hedge-cutting in August.

leo.varadkar@oir.ie



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