The Association of Farm & Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has been in contact with the National Parks & Wildlife Services (NPWA) in relation to the cutting of road side hedges. NPWS has confirmed that the current legislation allows both landowners and public authorities to address hedges for road safety reasons at any time of the year.
Under Roads’ legislation landowners are obliged to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or any other vegetation is not a hazard for persons using public roads. NPWS has confirmed that local authorities have the powers to instruct landowners to carry out works to ensure that their road side hedges are not a road safety hazard. This issue was clarified further by the Heritage Act 2018 and Road Safety and Wildlife legislative provisions were aligned.
NPWS has confirmed to FCI that the cutting or trimming of road side hedges for road safety purposes to protect cyclists and walkers, would be allowed at this time of the year.
On cutting hedgerows for agricultural purposes, while the Wildlife Acts does not provide a definition for the term “in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry”, it is acknowledged that the trimming of infield hedges to accommodate reseeding would constitute an accepted agricultural practice and so would be considered an exempted activity under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts.