Fine Gael Candidate for Tipperary Garret Ahearn has welcomed the passing of the Heritage Bill, also noting the new law will enable road-side hedges to be cut during August.
Mr Ahearn said: “I welcome the passing of this bill and I am hoping that the president will sign it into law shortly, so the measures of cutting hedges on roadsides can be implemented for the month of August. This has been an issue for many years and this new proposal will increase safety for road users, but also for pedestrians who want to enjoy our rural environment. This is a valuable and practical piece of legislation for rural communities across Ireland.”
The controversial Heritage Bill was successfully passed through Seanad Eireann and the bill will now be sent to the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, to be signed so it can be passed into law.
Speaking following the Seanad’s decision, the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan, said: “I welcome the passage of this bill through its final stage in the Oireachtas.
The provisions of the bill have been the subject of comprehensive debate in both houses of the Oireachtas and I am pleased that we can now move forward with the changes to the board of the Heritage Council, which have been long awaited and will be welcomed by the council.”
The provisions allowing the introduction of regulations for trimming one year’s growth on the road-facing side of a hedge – on a pilot basis for two years during the month of August – strike a careful balance between the need for a robust conservation approach to our natural heritage, and the need to protect road safety.
“The bill will also ensure that landowners dealing with fallen trees or other hazards, which they are obliged to do under the Roads Act, are not in breach of the Wildlife Act by doing so,” the minister said.
Garret Ahearn also rejected the claims that extending the season would pose a potential threat to the environment. “It is simply untrue to suggest that a 2 year pilot of managed roadside hedge cutting to align the Wildlife Acts with the Road Traffic Acts would result in the wholesale destruction of the environment as some have suggested. This is a measured approach, which was suggested following public consultation and stakeholder engagement.”