Councillors seek immediate changes to hedge cutting laws

Kerry county councillors have called for major changes to the law to allow roadside hedges and ditches to be cut back outside of the currently permissible timeframe. Road Councillors were debating a submission to the Department of Heritage on a review of Section 40 of the Wildlife Act which places restrictions on the cutting of roadside hedges. One councillor said that buses travelling the Ring of Kerry had had their windows and wing mirrors broken because of overgrown hedgerows. The Wildlife Act provisions are designed to protect bird life during the nesting season. Currently, the legislation prohibits the cutting of hedges by landowners from the 1st of March to the 31st August each year. Minister Heather Humphreys is currently seeking submissions from the public on a review of the legislative provisions. Many councillors suggested the period during which hedges and ditches can be cut back should be extended with some arguing it should be permissible the whole year round. Cllr Brendan Cronin proposed the allowable period for hedge cutting be extended by one month at either end. He said many junctions in the county were completely closed in. Fellow Independent, Cllr Danny Healy-Rae said a bird would be foolish to build her nest near a busy roadside because a truck could pass by, blowing every feather off her and leaving her naked on the roadside. Cllr Michael Gleeson said tourism was not being enhanced by the current policy while Cllr John Sheahan suggested a one-month extension similar to Northern Ireland. Council management said a submission would be made to the department which reflected the views of members.