Independent TD Mattie McGrath has said there is massive anger and frustration within rural communities over confirmation that regulations permitting the commencement of certain provisions of the Heritage Act will not be in place for at least another year. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht confirmed to him that although Section 7 of the Heritage Bill 2016 provides for managed hedge cutting on roadsides and burning these provisions cannot come into force until Regulations are made as provided for under the Heritage Act 2018:
“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, then the provisions allowing for hedge-cutting at the start of this August would be in force.
We now understand that the Minister and her Department had no intention of facilitating this change and have instead told us that it will be at least 2019 before draft regulations are in place.
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 Act has been signed and it must be allowed to be used as a legal basis for rural communities and contractors to get on with the vital work that needs to be done. Further delays are totally unacceptable,” concluded Deputy McGrath.