Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (3033)

Mattie McGrath


3033. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if regulations to provide for managed hedge cutting on roadsides and burning of vegetation will not now be introduced; the groups she consulted before the decision was made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33409/19]

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Written answers (Question to Culture)

The provisions under Section 7 of the Heritage Act 2018 allow for the making of Regulations relating to burning and cutting hedgerows.

Section 7(1) of the Heritage Act 2018 provides that I as Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, may make Regulations to allow the burning of vegetation during such periods in the month of March and in such parts of the country as specified in the Regulations.

I made a decision last February not to make Regulations to extend the season for the burning of vegetation into March 2019. This decision was taken as there would have been no basis for me to do so given the fact that the relatively dry weather during the six month period when the burning of vegetation could have been undertaken under the law (September to February inclusive) would not have precluded landowners from burning vegetation. Therefore, the existing provisions in the Wildlife Acts on burning remained in force for March 2019.

In relation to hedgerows, Section 7(2) of the Heritage Act 2018 includes power to make Regulations to allow the cutting of roadside hedges during the month of August subject to conditions.

I recently announced that I will not be proceeding with the making of such Regulations this year. This decision recognises the increasing threats to biodiversity nationally and globally and follows a number of Government initiatives to protect and nurture Ireland’s flora and fauna.

There has been extensive public debate and engagement by my Department and myself on this matter, especially in the context of the National Biodiversity Conference, the Seeds for Nature initiative, the public consultation on the Heritage Ireland 2030 Plan, the recent debates in the Dáil on biodiversity loss and the extensive engagement across Government on Climate Action, including by my Department.