Kilkenny farmer fined for removing hedges during bird nesting season
The removal of 400m of mature hedgerow during bird nesting season has led to a conviction and fine for a Kilkenny farmer.
On Tuesday, October 19 at Thurles District Court, Brendan Phelan, Rathbane, Galmoy, county Kilkenny, pleaded guilty to one offence under the Wildlife Act 1976. The offence took place on lands at Rathbane, between April 1 and 8last year. The offence was in relation the removal of 400 metres of mature hedgerow in order to make room for an internal farm roadway.
The case was taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and prosecuted by Gerard Meaney of the Chief State Solicitor’s office and barrister, Rory Hanniffy.
Outlining the facts of the case, Conservation Ranger Jimi Conroy of the NPWS told Judge Elizabeth McGrath that on the April 8, 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 that he complied with the request.
In summation, Judge McGrath told Mr Phelan the court takes these offences very seriously and asked Mr Phelan if he understood the reasons for his prosecution. Mr Phelan 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 bird life and also supported much biodiversity.
In considering her judgement Judge McGrath took into account Mr Phelan’s early guilty plea. Mr. Phelan was then convicted for offences under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 and fined €1,250 and ordered to pay costs of €735.