The hedge-cutting season is now open from Friday, September 1st, 2023, until Thursday, February 29th, 2024.
Local authorities have made a call for landowners, farmers, and householders to ensure their roadside hedges and overhanging trees are cut and maintained so that motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians can travel safely on roads.
Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 places responsibility for the maintenance of roadside hedges on the owners/occupiers of the adjoining lands.
The season when hedge cutting is permitted under the Wildlife Act is between the start of September and the end of February the following year.
In a statement regarding he matter, Tom Gilligan, director of services with Mayo County Council said:
“We have had numerous representations from road users concerning the overgrown state of hedgerows and also overhanging trees along some of our rural roads and the serious road safety issues that can result.”
“While we would like to compliment the many landowners who maintain their roadside hedges, there is also a significant number of landowners/occupiers and householders who fail to cut and maintain their roadside hedges which can result in road safety issues on those roads.”
“We are calling on them to be more proactive over the next few months to ensure that their roadside hedges and overhanging trees are maintained properly as they are obliged to do under the law,” Gilligan concluded.
The National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has reminded the public that cutting, grubbing, burning or other destruction of “vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch” between March 1st and August 31st is prohibited.
The prohibition is contained in section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 and suspected breaches are investigated by the NPWS and An Garda Síochána.
The prohibition outlined above does not apply (unless done by burning) in a number of circumstances set out in the Act.
For businesses, landowners, and the general public the most notable of these exemptions are:
- The destruction, in the ordinary course of agriculture or forestry, of any vegetation growing on or in any hedge or ditch. In the act, ‘agriculture’ is defined as including horticulture. Since horticulture includes gardening, the summertime trimming of hedges in the ordinary course of gardening falls under this exemption;
- The clearance of vegetation in the course of road or other construction works or in the development or preparation of sites on which any building or other structure is intended to be provided;
- The felling, cutting, lopping, trimming or removal of a tree, shrub, hedge, or other vegetation pursuant to section 70 of the Roads Act 1993.
Section 70(2) (a) of the Roads Act 1993 provides that “the owner or occupier of land shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation on the land is not a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road and that it does not obstruct or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public road”.
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