Senators will meet this week to discuss changing the laws governing hedgcutting and upland burning.The members will debate section 40 of the wildlife act this Wednesday.
Under the current law no hedgecutting can be carried out between March 1 and August 31st; the period of bird and animal nesting.
Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys has proposed new legislation that will allow for burning in March and additional hedgecutting in August.
Opinion has been mixed on the proposed legislation. Oonagh Duggan acting head of policy with birdwatch Ireland has called for no changes to the existing laws;
‘The position that Birdwatch Ireland has is that there should be no changes to the dates on upland burning and hedgecutting, the dates are set to protect our birds so they can live a full life cycle, each bird in the uplands and hedgerows have different start times.’
She went on to advise that farmers already have 6 months to carry out their cutting and burning activities and that to change the law would put some already endangered birds into serious risk including the endangered curlew and yellowhammer.
‘The minister is proposing to have this two year pilot and we have said there is no scientific data on this move. There’s no scientific rationale to these proposed changes.’
The IFA are in favour of the bill and have actively welcomed the proposed amendment to the bill.
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