THE recent announcement that the cutting of hedges along roadsides will not be allowed during the month of August has ruffled the feathers of a few councillors in the Castlebar Municipal District.
Josepha Madigan, Minster for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht made the announcement on July 16 last, saying that it ‘recognises the increased threats to biodiversity nationally and globally and follows a number of Government initiatives to protect and nurture Ireland’s flora and fauna’.
However, this decision has been met with strong criticism by Cllr Al McDonnell (FF), who at the July monthly meeting of Castlebar Municipal District last week, labelled it an ‘extraordinary announcement’.
“I thought I knew a bit on ecology, but last week I learned more when the Minister [Madigan] listed the 19 species of birds that nest by the roadside in August,” he told the meeting. “It was an extraordinary announcement, [because] amongst those birds listed is the magpie and has anyone in this county ever seen a magpie build a roadside nest?
“That’s because they don’t do it. Magpies are the most suspicious birds around and they’ll only nest in the most secluded spots, or in the highest tree. Fifteen of the other 19 birds she mentioned also don’t nest in hedges along the road in August. It is totally fictitious and she should be taken to task for it.”
Cathaoirleach of Castlebar Municipal District, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne (Ind) also expressed his disappointment that hedge cutting cannot take place in the month of August.
Hedge-cutting for the purpose of road safety is still permitted, however, with the Minister saying: “It is still open to landowners under the Roads Act 1993 to take reasonable steps to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation is not a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road.”