A judge has ordered a man, who destroyed hedgerow vegetation and trees, containing birds’ nests with eggs, to pay €6,000.
Mr Brian O Reilly, Clonagh, Hollywood, County Laois, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife Acts at Carlow District Court on Thursday, September 2nd.
Destroyed hedgerow vegetation
The offences took place on lands at Ballickmoyler, Co. Laois between May 8th and 11th, 2020.
- Two of the summonses related to the destruction of fifty-four mature hardwood trees and twelve hundred meters of hedgerow vegetation;
- Two more summonses for the wilful destruction of the nests and the eggs of protected wild birds;
- One summons for procuring and paying others to take part in these offences.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage took the case.
District conservation officer, Kieran Buckley of the NPWS, told judge Geraldine Carty that on May 12th, 2020, the NPWS arrived in Ballickmoyler to investigate a complaint that hedgerows and mature trees had been destroyed.
On the day of the investigation, they uncovered evidence that 1,200 meters of hedgerows, three-and-a-half acres of vegetation, and 54 mature trees had been destroyed.
Mr Buckley then searched the vegetation and the trees for birds’ nests.
He told the judge that they found the nests of blackbirds, blue-tits, song thrush, wren, hedge sparrow, chaffinch, and woodpigeon. All of the nests were destroyed.
Two of them contained the broken eggs of a chaffinch and a hedge sparrow.
The court also heard that five oak, twenty-seven ash, twenty whitethorns, one crab apple, and one holly tree were cut down.
Buckley told the court that the scale of the damage was the “most significant” he had ever encountered in the course of his work for NPWS.
He said that broken eggs and destroyed nests underpin the reason why vegetation is protected during the bird nesting season.
In summation, the judge told O Reilly that the court takes these offences “very seriously”.
His actions represented an “unacceptable loss” for birds during their breeding season. He said they also damaged the wider environment, and “did nothing” to help combat climate change.
The judge found the facts of the case proven, and convicted O’Reilly on all five summons (following his guilty plea) and imposed a total fine of €6,000, imposed as follows:
- 1 – €3,000 (120 days to pay)
- 2 – €3,000 (120 days to pay)
- 3, 4 and 5 – Conviction recorded on each, but taken into consideration.
Recognisance in the event of an appeal was fixed at €1,000 own bond and €500 cash lodgement. She told O Reilly not to come before the court again.