Farmers ignored hedge cutting warnings in Laois for years

Penalties for farmers not cutting hedges

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Hedgecutting

Local councillor says he has been inundated with requests from people in the Colmcille and Dromard areas to deal with hedgecutting issues in the locality

Laois farmers ignoring orders by the county council to cut overgrown roadside hedges should be brought to court or have their payments cut, say councillors.

Farmers are ignoring the legal notices from Laois County Council for as much as seven years, a councillor has claimed.

Cllr Padraig Fleming said it will continue unless the local authority brings them to court.

“If people knew the council was taking a hard line, that they will be fined. I know of roads notices sent seven years ago and they are still not cut,” he said.

“I’ll be very blunt, unless Laois County Council is willing to take farmers who ignore hedgecutting notices to court, it is going to continue,” Cllr Fleming said.

“I acknowledge that farmers do a great job, but some farmers won’t cut despite letters from the council. These side roads, the council does the main roads. They are a danger to the public who then have to walk out on the road,” he said.

He spoke on it at the September meeting of the Graiguecullen Portarlington Municipal District. Cllr Aisling Moran agreed.

“Take it out of their Single Farm Payment. In the interests of public safety if nothing else. It costs money to bring them to court and judges seem to let them off,” she claimed.

Cllr Moran said that overgrown hedges leave road surfaces wet

“It brings down the quality of the road,” she said.

Cllr Tom Mulhall wants farmers to be reminded that it is legal to cut hedges during the banned period, if they pose a danger on public roads.

Cllr Moran agrees.

“Can we put an advertisement in the papers to say the season is open and landowners are responsible for their own hedges,” she said.

Engineer Philip McVeigh said this can be arranged.

Under the Wildlife Act, hedgecutting is not allowed between March 1 and August 31. However landowners may request a hedgecutting notice from the council at any time to cut back areas causing a danger to the public.