Farmers to get paid to cut hedges on public roads in Clare

Clare County Council will offer grants to landowners and community groups to maintain hedgerows alongside public roads throughout County Clare.

The Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme, which was the first of its kind to be developed in Ireland when it was piloted in 2013, will see €10,000 being provided to deal with the local road network over the coming autumn and winter seasons.

Applications are being invited from communities and groups before October 30, 2016. Each application will be assessed and a grant of €50 per km of hedgerow will be paid, subject to certain conditions and available resources.

Clare County Council says the scheme will provide some financial assistance to communities and groups that undertake hedge cutting and the cutting of overhanging trees, and will assist landowners in complying with their responsibilities under Section 70 of the Roads Act, 1993.

Also Read: Here’s how many people have been prosecuted for illegal hedgecutting

“We are confident that this scheme, complemented by the Council’s ongoing hedgecutting programme, will be of benefit in dealing effectively with this issue.

“Our objective is that by the start of the nesting season in March 2017, much of the worst affected local roads in the County will be significantly enhanced in their capacity to accommodate the traffic that uses them,” said John Corry, Administrative Officer, Transportation, Clare County Council.

“The Roads Act, 1993 stipulates that all growth emanating from any part of the roadside boundary structure or from within the land protected by same is the responsibility of the landowner,” Corry said.

“From a road safety point of view, it is important that this responsibility is acknowledged and embraced by roadside landowners and the Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme is intended to provide support in this context to offset some of the costs associated with hedgecutting,” he said.

Hedgecutting season

Meanwhile, the Irish Wildlife Trust is highlighting that the ban on hedgecutting still runs until August 31.

It says it has received numerous calls from around the country regarding illegal hedgecutting this summer and there is now a real concern that this will escalate during the month of August.

There will be no changes to the current legislation to allow farmers to manage hedgecutting and burning at certain times within the existing closed period before September this year.

New legislation to allow hedgecutting and burning at certain times on a two-year pilot basis was to be introduced this spring but was delayed due to the formation of a new Government.

The legislation is to allow managed hedgecutting, under strict criteria, during August to help ensure issues such as overgrown hedges impacting on roads can be tackled.

In the meantime, the existing provisions relating to Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts are still in operation.

Currently, Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976, as amended, prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from March 1 to August 31.