The new provisions in relation to the cutting of hedgerows under Section 7 of the Heritage Act 2018 give the Minister power by Regulations to allow landowners or their agents to cut, in any hedge or ditch on the roadside during August, subject to such Regulations as the Minister may make. This provision will remain active for a pilot period of two years, with provision for continuation by resolution by each House of the Oireachtas for periods not to exceed 3 years
I am fully aware that these are a very important wildlife habitats, providing food, shelter, corridors of movement, nest and hibernation sites. It is my intention that the change set out in Section 7 of the Heritage Act would not interfere with this.
Ireland has some 300,000 kilometres of hedgerow mainly surrounding fields and properties across the country and only roadside hedges are subject to the provisions of the Heritage Act - a fraction of the entirety of the total hedgerow resource in this country.
In recognition of the importance of hedgerows, the Regulations will require that any cutting in the month of August may only be of the current year's growth and should not involve the use of heavy flails.
My Department will commission a study during this 2-year period focussed primarily on determining if there is any impact arising from the extension of the cutting season on late-nesting species of birds and in particular, the yellowhammer.
My Department will be publishing draft Regulations for public consultation on these issues in due course.