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29th April 2019 | Environment, Press Releases

Irish Rail stop the destruction of wildlife during breeding season: Greens

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Under Irish Law, it is an offence to destroy hedgerows and trees between the 1st of March and the 31st of August each year. For the vast majority of landowners and farmers around the country, March 1st is when they pack away their flails and saws, and leave the hedges to themselves. Unfortunately, it appears that Irish Rail see fit to ignore this law by seeking exemption, and are happy to destroy hedges and trees well into April, when birds are sitting on nests and rearing their chicks.

Speaking today, Green Party Spokesperson on Heritage Pippa Hackett said:

“What I have witnessed over the past week in Co Offaly, close to my home, has been catastrophic for our birds and biodiversity. I have seen many incidences of severe hedge trimming, even hedge removal during the cutting season, but never have I witnessed such wanton hedgerow destruction at the height of the nesting season, with hedges on the point of bloom. Nests, chicks, and biodiversity have been mulched to the ground.

“To make matters worse, these concerns were highlighted directly to Irish Rail a week previously when they began their decimation of the mature hedge on the other side of the track. Yet, despite pleas from members of the public, they returned the following week, to completely destroy the hedge on the opposite side.

“The pictures in this case paint a thousand words.

“No one is disputing that railway safety is paramount, but one would have to seriously question the understanding shown by Irish Rail and its “environmental” team to allow such destruction at this time of year. Not only had they six months to conduct this work when the birds were not nesting, the severity with which these hedges have been butchered is deplorable.

“Adding further insult to injury, Irish Rail are listed as one of the partners on the National Pollinator Plan, and I imagine Biodiversity Ireland will have questions too to ask, along with the many farmers, landowners and environmental NGO’s who work tirelessly to protect our natural habitats.

“We are in an era of climate breakdown and biodiversity loss, all caused by humans. Ireland’s landscape is no exception. It is a travesty that a state-owned company like Irish Rail should commit such an act of deliberate destruction on our environment. It is unforgivable.”

 

Photo caption

Before and after photos of hedgerows along rail lines in Offaly taken last week. Photo – Pippa Hackett – FREE TO USE.