Farm MachineryNewsRoad Safety

You can break out the hedge-cutter now, but under what circumstances?

The National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWS) has confirmed that current legislation allows landowners and public authorities to “address hedges for road safety reasons” at any time of the year.

This clarification followed a query from the Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI), over the cutting of roadside hedges.

Under roads legislation, landowners are obliged to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or any other vegetation is not a hazard for people using public roads.

The NPWS has confirmed that local authorities have powers to instruct landowners to carry out works to ensure that their roadside hedges are not a road safety hazard.

This issue was clarified further by the Heritage Act 2018 when road safety and wildlife legislative provisions were aligned.

The NPWS confirmed to the FCI that the cutting or trimming of roadside hedges for road safety purposes, to protect cyclists and walkers, would be allowed at this time of the year.

On the cutting hedgerows for agricultural purposes, while the Wildlife Act does not provide a definition for the term “in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry”, the FCI says that it is acknowledged that the trimming of in-field hedges to accommodate reseeding would constitute an “accepted agricultural practice”.

This, claims the FCI, means that it would be considered an exempted activity under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act.

Role Of Contractors

The FCI also sought clarification from newly-appointed Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Barry Cowen on the future of contracting, requesting that “the important role of contractors be taken into full consideration in the next Programme for Government and the Reform of the CAP 2021-2027”.

The representative group noted that contractors play a critical role in Ireland’s agriculture’s value-chain, claiming that “90% of regular farm machinery work on Irish farms is completed by farm contractors”.

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