A judge has ordered a farmer to pay €3,000 for destroying 755 meters of hedgerows and 0.7ac of scrub woodland at a Tipperary farm.
Mr Anthony Ryan, Derryhiney, Portumna, Co. Galway appeared before a sitting of Nenagh District Court on Thursday, September 9th, 2021.
He pleaded guilty to two offences under the Wildlife Acts. The offences took place on lands at Redwood, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary between May 19th and 26th, 2020.
One of the summonses related to the destruction of 0.7-acres of scrub woodland. The second summons related to the destruction of growing vegetation in 755m of hedgerow by cutting and grubbing.
The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage took the case.
The case was prosecuted by Mr William Maher BL and Michelle O Connell of Michelle O Connell Solicitors Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Outlining the facts of the case, district conservation officer Dr Áine Lynch of the NPWS told Judge Elizabeth McGrath that on May 26th 2020, herself and conservation ranger Dr Ciara Powell arrived in Redwood to investigate a complaint that hedgerows and mature trees had been destroyed.
On the day of the investigation, they uncovered evidence that 755 meters of hedgerows and 0.7acres of scrub woodland had been cut and grubbed at.
The court heard and saw photographs showing large piles of vegetation and mature trees grubbed out by the roots.
Dr Lynch told the court that this work had been carried out at the height of the bird nesting season when breeding birds were at their most vulnerable.
The court heard that the hedgerows on-site were mature and species-rich. They would have provided nesting opportunities for a range of bird species.
Also, the court was told that while hedgerows were important for nesting birds, they were also home to a range of other species from mammals to invertebrates.
In relation to the scrub woodland, Dr. Lynch told the court that such habitats were also important and provided a home for other species, such as Long-Eared Owl. “When they are gone, they were gone,” she said.
Not a bureaucratic law
In summation, the judge told Mr Ryan that he should be fully aware of the bird nesting season as a farmer. Judge McGrath said that Section 40 is not a bureaucratic law; it exists to protect birds and their habitat.
“The habitat that Mr Ryan removed has been lost forever and cannot be replaced,” the court was told.
Judge McGrath convicted Mr Ryan and imposed a total fine of €3,000 for the two offences.
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