Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there will be significant anger and frustration within rural communities following confirmation that regulations permitting the implementation of certain provisions of the Heritage Act are to be weakened. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, confirmed to him in a Parliamentary Reply that although extensions of managed hedge cutting on roadsides are to be allowed on a trial basis, they will only permit cutting of the current year’s growth:
“To say that there is huge disappointment around this news is an understatement. It was understood by almost everyone involved in this issue that once the Heritage Act 2018 was signed into law, which it was in mid-July of last year, then the provisions allowing for hedge-cutting at the start of this August would be in force.
We now understand that the Minister will only permit the bare minimum of cutting which totally undermines the actual effectiveness of the “extension.”
This demonstrates yet again that Minister Madigan has absolutely zero sense of the urgency surrounding this matter for rural Ireland and indeed for local authorities.
People’s lives are being put at risk for every day in which there is a delay in allowing the cutting of overgrown and dangerous hedges or vegetation.
Some of the roads I have travelled on recently are places where the hedges are almost meeting each other in the middle of the road and where Stop signs are completely obscured.
How the Minister and her officials have utterly failed to grasp that this is an immediate public health risk is beyond me.
The Minister and the Department now seem to be sanctioning only the kind of trimming that could be easily done with a pair of garden shears. Clearly this is not what is required or what was sought by farming organisations.
As usual it is the government giving the appearance of action when in reality nothing helpful is being done.
What is often required is permission to bring about a significant reduction in hedgerow size given the dangers that they can represent.
It is truly ridiculous that the Minister now seems to be categorically ruling that out,” concluded Deputy McGrath.