A judge has ordered a farmer to pay just under €2,000 for removing a hedgerow during the nesting season.
Brendan Phelan, Rathbane, Galmoy, County Kilkenny, appeared before Thurles District Court on Tuesday, October 19th, 2021.
He pleaded guilty to one offence under the Wildlife Act 1976 after removing 400m of mature hedgerow during bird nesting season to make room for an internal farm roadway.
The offence took place on lands at Rathbane, Co. Killkenny between April 1st and 8th, 2020.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage took the case.
Mr. Gerard Meaney of the Chief State Solicitor’s office and barrister, Mr. Rory Hanniffy prosecuted the case.
Outlining the facts of the case, conservation ranger, Jimi Conroy of the NPWS told Judge Elizabeth McGrath that on April 8th, 2020, he arrived in Rathbane to investigate a complaint that a line of hedgerow had been destroyed.
On the day of the investigation, he uncovered evidence that 400 meters of hedgerow had been removed and that the operation was ongoing.
Mr. Conroy said he advised Mr. Phelan to halt the works immediately, and Mr Phealan complied.
In summation, Judge McGrath told Mr. Phelan that the court takes these offences “very seriously”.
She asked Mr. Phelan if he understood the reasons for his prosecution, to which he replied, “that it was the wrong time of the year to be carrying out this type of work as it was during the bird nesting season”.
Judge McGrath told Mr. Phelan that hedgerows were “very important” for birdlife and also “supported much biodiversity”.
In considering her judgement, Judge McGrath considered Mr. Phelan’s early guilty plea.
She convicted Phelan for offences under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976.
She handed him a fine to the tune of €1,250 and ordered him to pay costs of €735.
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