THE cutting of hedges in East Cork has been described as “vandalism” and “a cultural problem” for which those responsible should be held accountable, according to Green Party Councillor Liam Quaide.
The East Cork councillor said that enforcement issues still surround the cutting of hedges.
He said there is “no real threat of sanction” despite the banning of hedge cutting and burning each year between March 1 and August 31 under the Wildlife Act.
The law aims to protect and maintain wildlife diversity by establishing areas where wildlife can thrive during seasons when nests and flowers are more common.
Cllr Quaide has been contacted by concerned locals who have witnessed hedge cutting in various areas across East Cork in recent weeks.
He said that there are currently trees being cut down in Mallow Town Park as part of plans to revamp the park that are “supposedly posing a health and safety risk”.
But the councillor labelled it as “very questionable” and is looking into the situation further.
He said that there was “a particularly bad example” in Rostellan where a hedgerow “was almost completely destroyed”.
“It’s pure vandalism really, I’m sure there is some rationale to it but at this time of year especially it’s completely unjustified.” He said that although there are exceptions to the ban under the Wildlife Act, that people use those exceptions as “carte blanche”.
He said that a recent case of hedgecutting reported to gardaí was “successful” because the people involved were breaking Covid-19 restriction having travelled over 2km to take part in non-essential work but that “sometimes gardaí may not see it as a serious issue”.
“I had a motion last year in the council, basically trying to temper the information that the council gives out to landowners.
“The council gives information to landowners during the correct time basically to say if you’ve any trees or hedges interfering with road visibility to cut them back and it quotes the Road Traffic Act so obviously then some landowners are fearful that they’re going to be sued and they go out do unnecessary damage to hedgerow and trees.
“Whereas, I was trying to get them to really temper that and to have Cork Nature Network consulting with landowners or at least give them better information,” he said.