Cork councillor calls for action on overgrown hedges 

Cork councillor calls for action on overgrown hedges 
Picture Dan Linehan

Cork County Councillor Danny Collins has called on the council to put pressure on the Government to lengthen the hedge cutting season.

The Independent West Cork Councillor said the matter is one of urgency and an issue of health and safety. He proposed that the season would be brought back to August 1 from September 1 as stated in the Wildlife Act 2000.

Mr Collins said more and more people were out walking and cycling and overgrown hedgerows were creating a real risk factor on country roads.

The motion gathered a great deal of support from councillors, with a number of issues raised such as noxious weeds like ragwort and hogweed developing in hedges during the months that cutting is curtailed.

Independent Councillor Ben Dalton O’Sullivan said he had received a number of calls from farmers who have had to replace mirrors and bits of machinery damaged from overgrown hedgerows.

Mr Dalton O’Sullivan said that while there needed to be due regard for wildlife there needed to be better guidelines in relation to hedge-cutting.

Green Party Councillors Liam Quaide and Alan O’Connor both spoke on the matter, voicing their dissent with the proposed letter.

Mr Quaide said hedge-cutting strictly for safety measures along roads is already an exemption in the Wildlife Act, and that legislation is widely considered to be very weak in protecting wildlife.

“It needs to be strengthened, not weakened further.” 

Fianna Fáil Councillor Joe Carroll said while the wellbeing of the wildlife was important, he said the health and safety of humans was paramount and needed to be considered as a priority.

Fine Gael Councillor John O’Sullivan said there was a lot of uncertainly surrounding the current legislation snd landowners were unsure of their rights and responsibilities in this area.

Fianna Fáil Councillor Gillian Coughlan suggested that an amendment to the wording stipulating roadside hedges as opposed to all hedges.

After much discussion, the council voted on the matter and agreed to send the letter to the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and The Gaeltacht Catherine Martin.

Green Party Councillors proposed the letter was not sent but this motion was unsuccessful, with 38 in favour of the letter, five against and one abstention.

Mr Collins, who proposed the motion to send the letter, said he did not think there was much chance of Minister Martin taking their concerns on board in a constructive manner but he was remaining hopeful something would be done.

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