Concerns have been raised that recently announced changes to the rules surrounding hedgecutting might not be implemented in time for this years hedgecutting season.

New legislation to allow hedgecutting and burning at certain times within the existing closed period on a pilot basis was to be introduced this spring but been delayed due to the formation of a new Government.

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

This week, IFA Environment Chairman Thomas Cooney called on Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys TD to progress the amendment to the closed period for hedge cutting, initiated by her in advance of the previous Government concluding its term.

Cooney said in December, Minister Humphreys announced that new legislation would be enacted allowing the managed cutting of hedges during August, under strict criteria, to help ensure that issues such as overgrown hedges impacting on roads can be addressed.

"This legislation, which was not finalised, must now be progressed to ensure farmers can avail of changes this year.

"This pragmatic measure will allow for better vegetation management while ensuring the protection of biodiversity. It is essential that no further delays occur and Minister Humphreys prioritises the progress of this measure during this Dáil term," he said.

Current situation

Due to the fact that the Heritage Bill 2016 was not passed by both houses of the Oireachtas prior to the dissolution of the Dáil and therefore has failed to become law, dates for burning and hedge-cutting have not changed.

It remains illegal for cutting or burning to take place between March 1 and August 31, subject to the usual legal exemptions.