Fine Gael Cork Senator Tim Lombard has said Fianna Fáil’s amendment to the Heritage Bill on hedge cutting is useless for farmers.
Fianna Fáil’s amendment seeks to restrict the proposed cutting of hedgerows in August exclusively to road-side hedges, hindering preparation for sowing crops.
Under current legislation, farmers are not permitted to cut hedgerows between March 1st and August 31st.
The Bill seeks to provide for a pilot scheme of managed hedge cutting under strict criteria in August to ensure road safety and enable greater land management.
Senator Lombard said: “The Heritage Bill 2016 has come before the Seanad on two separate occasions and will be in the Seanad again next week where it will be discussed until late Wednesday night.
“Initially this Bill was supported by Fianna Fáil. The party has since done a complete turn and has now proposed an amendment to the Bill which would see only road-side hedges trimmed during August.
“This amendment dilutes one of the objectives of the Heritage Bill pilot scheme, thus rendering it ineffective.
“What Fine Gael and Minister Heather Humphreys TD are proposing is a pilot scheme to enable selective trimming of both road-side and farm-side hedges during August.
“This earlier start date is, among other things, a practical solution to a farming issue. If hedges are not trimmed then fields cannot be ploughed properly.
“An earlier trimming date will provide an opportunity for farmers who want to grow winter cereals and/or re-seed their grassland to trim their hedges before this work must commence.
“I would call on Fianna Fáil to stick to their original outlook and the commitments they made and not be swayed by populist views.”