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30th July 2020 | Press Releases

Oireachtas briefing: Greenways, SDGs and prosecution for hedge cutting in nesting season


Minister Malcom Noonan TD has welcomed a case brought by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht under the Wildlife Acts for the destruction of vegetation on lands not then cultivated and on vegetation growing in a hedge during the statutory bird nesting season.

The offences involved the destruction of over 300 metres of vegetation growing on a hedge and on lands not then cultivated during the bird nesting season. It is an offence under Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts to destroy vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch or on lands not then cultivated during the bird nesting season that runs from 1 March to 31 August each year.

Minister Noonan said: “I welcome this prosecution as hedgerows are vitally important for our wildlife and contribute hugely to biodiversity. There have been other successful prosecutions this year taken by the NPWS for illegal vegetation clearance and hedge cutting in counties Laois, Tipperary and Waterford.”

“It is the Department’s policy to prosecute those found in breach of the legislation,” he added, “including public bodies, and any incidents of illegal burning, clearing of vegetation or hedge cutting should be reported to the local National Parks and Wildlife Service Office or An Garda Síochána.”

Following a proposal by Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD, the Dáil Business Committee will now include the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a fixed agenda item for Committees that will be engaged with the following policy areas and shadowing relevant departments: Justice, Equality, Housing & Planning, Agriculture and the Marine, Foreign Affairs and International Development Cooperation, Employment and Social Protection, Climate Action and Energy and others as deemed appropriate. The Green Party is a strong advocate of the SDGs, and their inclusion as a discussion item in Select Committees will help to progress Ireland’s implementation of the SDGs and act as a mechanism through which relevant Departments can be held accountable for making progress.

€4.5 million in funding for 26 Greenway Projects has been allocated under the Carbon Tax Fund 2020, providing support for feasibility, planning and design for Greenways around the country.

Minister for Climate Change, Communications Networks and Transport, Minister Eamon Ryan TD announced the funding this week, stating it will “support the Greenways Strategy and help local authorities prepare Greenway projects to be ready for construction funding in the coming years. These greenways will encourage tourism in the future, and will also provide a safe, segregated space for people walking and cycling.”

Minister Catherine Martin TD, Minister for Media, Tourism, Art, Culture and the Gaeltacht, also welcomed the announcement:  “Greenways can play an important role in supporting local communities to create jobs and bring visitors to areas of the country that might not otherwise experience tourism. As we have seen over the course of the lockdown, people are eager to get out into nature and avail of the stunning scenery in our country.”

Minister Ryan also launched the Public Consultation for Luas Finglas this week, alongside the first of eight new Luas 55m trams being added to the service. Luas Finglas will extend the Green Line and construct a cycle and pedestrian path along the line to providing family-friendly, sustainable and convenient travel to the city centre.

Finally, this week Minister Ryan also signed Regulations to give legal effect to the extension of the smoky coal ban to all towns with populations over 10,000 people. From 1 September 2020, the burning, sale and marketing of smoky coal will be prohibited in thirteen additional areas across the country.

“I am very pleased to extend this ban to a further 13 urban areas and I would like to I thank the local authorities for their cooperation”, Minister Ryan said. “This measure will reduce air pollution and promote public health. The main health effects of air pollution include stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma. Fine particulate matter, the pollutant of most concern from domestic solid fuel burning is linked to a range of diseases. Banning smoky coal saves lives and improves health outcomes.”