Scathing criticism brands Council’s hedge-cutting operation ‘regressive’
THE ‘reckless and senseless’ decimation of Co Mayo’s hedgerows and trees is in flagrant contrast to the aspirations expressed in the recently published Mayo County Development Plan 2021.
That is according to the Mayo branch of the Green Party, which has dubbed recent and current operations by the local authority ‘savage and unnecessary’.
However, when contacted by The Mayo News yesterday (Monday) a spokesperson for Mayo County Council explained that hedge-cutting operations were in the interest of road safety and that the statutory period concluded at the end of February.
Nevertheless, the Mayo Green Party has called for an immediate halt to the operation currently being undertaken along many of the county’s roads, citing the fact that ‘entire trees and mature hedging have been completely slashed and left in large piles along the roadside’ in Mulranny and Achill, as well as on the Leenane Road from Westport.
‘Aggressive and outdated’
Speaking about the issue, Liam Heffron, chairperson of the Mayo Green Party, said ‘this type of aggressive and outdated hedge-cutting made a mockery of the council’s sentiments to protect the natural environment and biodiversity within its new County Development Plan’.
“There is simply no accounting for the slash and burn approach that the county council is taking towards hedge-cutting along many of our roads at the moment. Entire trees and mature hedges have been reduced to stumps, devastating vital natural habitats for many birds and other essential fauna and wreaking havoc with our biodiversity.
“It makes no sense at all. It is an old-fashioned, and frankly, frowned upon and regressive municipal practice at this stage. Mature hedgerows like we have in Mayo should be protected and celebrated, not destroyed,” he said.
Continuing, Mr Heffron noted: “The council has just published its Development Plan for 2021 to 2026 with many welcome commitments to protect Mayo’s natural landscape and unique biodiversity. However, this latest show of reckless and senseless decimation goes totally against the aspirations within the plan and raises serious questions about the true sentiments of our council when it comes to our environmental heritage.”
RESPONDING, Mayo County Council said that local authorities are permitted to cut up to the end of February. A spokesperson said: “Mayo County Council are carrying out hedge-cutting where it is needed in the interest of road safety.
Provisions for hedge and tree cutting fall under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act. Due to restrictions under Covid-19 there is minimal operations currently taking place.”
She added that under the provisions of the legislation it is an offence to ‘cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy hedgerows on uncultivated land during the nesting season from March 1 to August 31, subject to certain exceptions’.
“Mayo County Council are committed to protect Mayo’s natural landscape and unique bio-diversity throughout all of our activities,” she concluded.