17/07/2019

Hedgerow Biodiversity To Be Protected

Regulations that would have allowed general roadside hedge cutting in August will not be introduced to protect biodiversity and nurture native flora and fauna.

The Minister for Culture Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, said that the decision has been taken in recognition of the increasing threats to biodiversity nationally and globally and follows a number of Government initiatives to protect and nurture Ireland's flora and fauna.

The minister was given discretionary powers under the Heritage Act 2018 to allow the cutting of roadside hedges during the month of August on a trial basis in 2019 and 2020.

Hedge cutting for road safety purposes will still be allowed at all times of the year.

Minister Madigan said: "Hedgerows are a very important wildlife habitat, providing food, shelter, corridors of movement, nest and hibernation sites for many of our native flora and fauna.

"While the Heritage Act made provision to allow the cutting of roadside hedges in August on a pilot basis, it's clear from recent international and national studies including the IPBES Report, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the recent Irish Wetland Bird Survey that we need to provide greater protection to our nature and biodiversity.

"Hedges sustain nature and from March to August they protect nesting and breeding birds and wildlife. It would be wrong and would send out all the wrong signals to extend hedge cutting further into August this year.

"It is still open to landowners under the Roads Act 1993 to take reasonable steps to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation is not a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road and that it does not obstruct or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public road. Under the terms of the Wildlife Act, roadside hedge cutting is permitted between 1st September and the end of February.

"I am happy that this decision strikes the correct balance between the need to protect nature on the one hand and ensure public safety on our roads on the other.

"This Government is making real progress protecting and restoring our environment. The recent All-of-Government Climate Action Plan is proof of this. I'm also keen to build on the increased protection for biodiversity that will come from the Biodiversity Duty, which will ensure public bodies promote and nurture our biodiversity and the progress made at the first National Biodiversity Conference in February."

(MH/CM)

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