Illegal hedgerow cutting to be met with ‘zero tolerance’ approach

Kildare farmer ordered to pay €2,500 following prosecution under Wildlife Acts

A "zero tolerance" approach will be enforced in response to the illegal cutting of hedges between March and August each year, Minister of State for Heritage Malcolm Noonan has warned.

This follows a recent prosecution for hedgerow destruction in Co Kildare, which resulted in a €2,500 penalty being imposed on a local farmer.

“Hedgerows are superhighways for nature, a hugely valuable and biodiverse network that extends throughout the country and includes some of the oldest and most well established habitat in our landscapes,” Mr Noonan said.

“The vast majority of landowners are already aware that, while limited exemptions do exist, it is illegal to damage or destroy hedgerows during the breeding season.”


Undermining habitats

He said his department was responding to the undermining of habitats by recruiting additional conservation rangers and establishing a wildlife crime unit to properly resource efforts to protect nature. He called on members of the public who witnessed such acts to contact the National Parks and Wildlife Service and to provide as much evidence as possible.

In proceedings brought by the NPWS earlier this month, Robert Conlon of Athgarvan, Co Kildare, pleaded guilty at Naas District Court to two offences under the Wildlife Acts on July 15th, 2019. The case related to destruction of vegetation on uncultivated land at Dunmurry during the bird nesting season. The defendant had said he was "tidying up the place".

Judge Desmond Zaidan imposed a €2,000 fine with costs of €500. The Irish Wildlife Trust was nominated by Mr Conlon's counsel to receive the €2,000.

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan

Kevin O'Sullivan is Environment and Science Editor and former editor of The Irish Times