The Heritage Bill contains several crucial measures for rural Ireland, the chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Rural Affairs and Community Development has said.
Fine Gael TD for Clare, Joe Carey, said the Bill, which enters report stage in the Dáil this evening, contains a range of measures relating to the Heritage Council, Ireland’s canals and wildlife.
The pilot measures include the managed hedge-cutting in respect of roadside hedges only; this will be allowed, under strict criteria, during August to tackle issues such as overgrown hedges impacting on roads.
As it stands, hedge-cutting and gorse burning are prohibited between March 1 and August 31. The provision also allows for controlled burning in certain areas around the country – to be specified by regulation – during the month of March, should it be necessary.
Deputy Carey said: “The Heritage Bill contains a number of measures that are crucial for rural Ireland. It is vital that farmers are permitted to manage their land in a more effective way.
“Allowing for managed cutting of roadside hedges under strict regulation is a common sense move. If a person is driving a tractor out of a field, he or she needs a clear view before it moves to the road.
“The Bill allows for this on a trial basis, and only after strict regulatory processes have been followed.”
Deputy Carey also rejected the claims that extending the season would pose a potential threat to the environment.
“It is simply untrue to suggest that a 2 year pilot of managed roadside hedge cutting to align the Wildlife Acts with the Road Traffic Acts would result in the wholesale destruction of the environment as some have suggested.
“This is a measured approach, which was suggested following public consultation and stakeholder engagement.”