Speaking after a meeting with Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys, IFA President Eddie Downey welcomed the Minister’s commitment to progress the current review of permitted hedge cutting and gorse burning dates by her Department and ensure a workable solution is delivered for farmers.
Eddie Downey said, “Farmers understand the importance of hedgerows and upland areas as biodiversity reservoirs. However, the existing restrictive dates for cutting and burning means farmers do not have the flexibility to manage farms properly. IFA made detailed proposals to Minister Humphreys in January, which she has now agreed to review and come forward with a workable solution”.
IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman, Harold Kingston, has called on Minister Heather Humphreys to ensure the current review of hedge cutting dates delivers a shorter closed season.
Mr. Kingston said, “There is a real basis for a shorter closed period, as the nesting season now occurs earlier, which should lead to hedge cutting being permitted from August 1st onwards. Planning is essential during August as it is a busy month for farmers, with harvesting and other activities. It is also a peak time for tourism. The earlier opening date would allow farmers more time to ensure roads are cleared of overhanging growth, making them safer for both locals and visitors”.
IFA Hill Committee Chairman Pat Dunne has called for the period during which burning is allowed to be extended to 15th April. He said, “Burning is a vital management tool to ensure that land is maintained to be suitable for grazing, and is not overgrown and as a result abandoned. Management plans for the uplands should involve a burning period much longer than currently exists and dates for the burning season should be brought back in line with the UK and Northern Ireland.”