How the government was alerted to off-season hedge trimming last year
THE ACTIVITIES Farmers, commercial tree cutters and a GAA club were the subject of complaints to the government over out-of-season hedge cutting last year.
A selection of correspondence to the Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government showed why members of the public alerted the government to potentially illegal hedge cutting.
Hedge trimming and burning are prohibited each year between March 1 and August 31 under the Wildlife Act.
The law aims to protect and maintain wildlife diversity by establishing areas where wildlife can thrive during seasons when nests and flowers are more common.
Hedgerows are crucial for maintaining wildlife diversity and for establishing habitats, especially for birds.
Those who break the law by engaging in hedge trimming or burning between March and August can be summoned to court and fined.
Correspondence sent to The newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act reveals details of hedge trimming complaints submitted to the department last year.
Only a selection of complaints have been provided, due to the number of people who contacted the department about the issue in 2021.
“An inordinate amount of tree felling”
In March last year, someone in Westmeath contacted the department about what he described as ‘an excessive amount of tree felling’ outside the hedge-cutting season.
“This felling began yesterday and has continued today…and it looks like more trees will be felled in the coming days,” they wrote.
“Could you let me know if this is a directive from Westmeath County Council or otherwise?” The trees that were felled were healthy and served as nesting places for owls and other birds.
They attached a photo, which showed freshly cut hedges along a road, adding: “Are there any plans to replace these trees?”
In the same month, another person contacted the department to say they were “shocked” by the removal of a hedge at a GAA club in the first week of March.
“There were a lot of birds in that hedgerow. I used to hear them every morning, regardless of the weather on my ride. The removal of the hedge destroyed much-needed habitat and nesting site in an urban area,” the plaintiff wrote.
“Removing a hedge of this depth and length will only increase the noise pollution from hurley balls hitting the wall. Obviously that stopped during lockdown, but you can imagine how worn it is for 12+ hours, seven days a week.”
The following month, another person from Louth also raised concerns about the felling of trees during the nesting season – and whether that counted as essential work while a full Covid lockdown -19 was still in place.
“I was wondering if it’s allowed to cut down trees at this time of year with probable nests in the tree?” the person wrote.
“Our neighbors felled two large trees yesterday as they were blocking its sunlight. These trees also provided a noise dampening effect from the busy road separated from us by a field.
“At a time of national lockdown where we can’t even visit our families, is this work deemed essential for the entrepreneur?
Also in April, another person contacted the ministry with a brief complaint about hedge trimming in an unspecified part of the country.
“Walking today, I photographed this. What’s the story?” they said, attaching a photo:
“They do not care”
In the same month, another complainant from the south of the country contacted the department about the trimming of hedges and the felling of trees on a long stretch of road, attaching a number of photos.
“These were cut last week, that’s clear. Hedge destroyed and every tree in sight within half a mile felled,” they wrote.
“It was in no way for safety reasons. No trees presented any danger and the fact that they have just destroyed the hedge with the trees shows that they [the person who cut down the trees] I do not care.
Source: Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government
A similar complaint was made in Waterford in May, when an individual contacted the department about spraying a hedgerow along a 2km stretch of road.
“All vegetation on the ditch is dead, along with any insect/invertebrate life that was on the ditch, burned by spray, presumably herbicide,” the person wrote.
“The spraying was probably done at least 2 weeks ago. This is a stone/clay ditch and without vegetation to bind the ground it is likely to disintegrate and collapse over time. »
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In June, another person from Limerick wrote to the department complaining about the activity of farmers cleaning up ditches in their area.
“I’m not a big birdwatcher, but lately I’ve seen a few examples in the countryside near my home: farmers seem to be clearing the dykes and clearing all the shrubbery from the ditches – and in my opinion clearing all the bird’s nests “, they said. noted.
“They completely obliterated the ditches and the rows of hedges. Isn’t this totally destroying the habitats of birds and their chicks at this time of year? I thought all this was forbidden until the fall?
In the same month, another person complained about the activities of commercial tree fellers sharing details of their work online.
“There are many, many companies posting pictures of all the ‘recent’ work they have done in gardens,” the complainant wrote.
“Decimate hedges and trees when they shouldn’t. A few post their services online and show complete hedge removal, not just trimming.
“Massacre and maim”
In August, another person in Cork wrote to the department about what they said was the destruction of a centuries-old natural green space.
“I would like to report what I believe to be the destruction of flora, fauna and animal habitat in my area,” the person said.
“A new house has been built next to our property. After some time, the new owners decided to bring large diggers to a site alongside them to destroy the quarry and remove many trees and wildlife, which were a breeding ground and habitat for wild foxes, rabbits and the birds.
‘Work has stopped as a complaint has been filed, but I would like to inform you of what I believe to be a determined effort to remove what was natural green space for hundreds of years.’
In September, an individual in Wexford complained that one of the trees on his estate had been ‘cut and mutilated’ at the end of August.
“The tree was planted when the houses were built in 2004,” the person said.
“I have not been informed or consulted by anyone about this work and the tree will now die as a result of the mutilation. Something must surely be done about this act of brutality on nature.
It is unclear if the department has investigated any of the above complaints, if any action has been taken against those who were the subject of the complaint, or if wrongdoing or illegal activity has taken place. .
The Department of Housing, Heritage and Local Government has been contacted for comment.
- The Noteworthy Journal investigative platform recently reported that the National Parks and Wildlife Service filed nearly 50 lawsuits for illegal hedge cutting during the bird nesting season last year.
- It’s also worth noting last year that Ireland is losing an abundance of hedgerows every year, with at least 3,000km cut by local authorities since 2018 in March and August.