[UPDATED] An Taisce Welcomes Heritage Minister Announcement not to Allow August 2019 Hedge Cutting to Proceed
An Taisce welcomes the decision by Heritage Minister Josepha Madigan not to proceed with Regulations which would allow hedge cutting in August this year. 
The Heritage Act 2018 allowed the Minister the discretion of permitting hedge cutting on a trial basis in 2019 and 2020. The passing of this Act through the Oireachtas in 2018 was a major blow to nature conservation in Ireland, and was opposed by numerous Irish environmental organisations, in addition to over 30,000 people who signed a petition against it. Hedgerow cutting in August impacts negatively on late-nesting bird species, such as the endangered Yellowhammer. August hedgerows also provide food sources for pollinators, such as wild bees and butterflies, in addition to mammals.
To allow this regressive legislation to be enacted at this time when global biodiversity loss is increasingly recognised would further endanger our threatened habitats and species. To allow hedge cutting in August would directly contradict the recent declaration by the Government of a biodiversity emergency.
An Taisce particularly welcome the recognition by the Minister of these threats when she states that: “it’s clear from recent international and national studies including the IPBES Report, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and the recent Irish Wetland Bird Survey that we need to provide greater protection to our nature and biodiversity.”
It is to be hoped that the decision not to facilitate hedge cutting this August will also be renewed in 2020.
With the ever more stark evidence of global biodiversity loss, and Ireland’s recognition of this biodiversity emergency, the time has come for a turning point in the defence of nature in Ireland, and the integration of biodiversity protection in our trade relationships with other countries. An Taisce hopes that this welcome decision marks such a turning point in government policy.
Dr. Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer with An Taisce, commented: ‘After failing to stop the Heritage Act passing in to legislation, this decision is a very welcome reprieve for our precious biodiversity.’
‘The recognition by the Minister of the seriousness of this issue is very welcome, and we would hope that it could be a clarion call to other government departments to give biodiversity loss the consideration it urgently requires.’
‘This is great news for hedgerows in 2019, but we would like to see a guarantee that hedgerow cutting in August will not be permitted in other years.’
For further information, contact:
Elaine McGoff, Natural Environment Officer, An Taisce: +353-1-707-7063 / 085-715-3796
An Taisce - Protecting Ireland’s heritage, safeguarding its future.
An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland's natural and built heritage. We are an independent charitable voice for the environment and for heritage issues. We are not a government body, semi-state or agency. Founded in 1948, we are one of Ireland’s oldest and largest environmental organisations.