The Government is reminding landowners that from today the cutting of hedgerows and the burning of land is prohibited under the Wildlife Act. (Exceptions are allowed for road safety and other specific situations). The Act is intended to give protection to birds and mammals during the nest building and breeding season. The Minister for Heritage Malcolm Noonan is also reminding people of the dangers of fires that are started deliberately in rural areas saying such fires damage nature, worsen air pollution, impact people’s health, degrade watercourses and threaten the safety of people and property.
Staff from the NPWS are tasked with monitoring such fires and working closely with the Gardaí and the Fire Service. The Minister says in the reality of a biodiversity crisis the Government is now taking wildlife crime seriously with 32 prosecutions secured in 2022, 2 so far in 2023 and there are a further 60 cases on hand. This is in addition to consequences to landowners for eligibility under the Basic Payment Scheme through cross-compliance with the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
The Minister asks anyone concerned about hedge cutting or burning to report it to the NPWS or the Garda or Fire service.