IFA Environment and Rural Affairs Chairman Harold Kingston has urged Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys not to be deflected from the current review of hedge cutting dates and gorse burning dates by her Department, and to ensure a workable solution is delivered for farmers.
Harold Kingston said, “Despite suggestions from some quarters, the nesting season occurs earlier and this is reflected in the changes to the Wildlife Act over 15 years ago when the closed date moved from 1st April to 1st March. However, the Act should have also brought forward the ending of the closed season to 31st July from 31st August. This is a logical approach to the twin objectives of protecting biodiversity and allowing the necessary flexibility to farm”.
The IFA Environment Chairman 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 reviewed and has agreed to come forward with a workable solution”.
Mr. Kingston said, “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”.