Saturday, 3 May 2014

Hedge Destruction.

1. Hedges being removed in bird nesting time, near the Dublin Road, near Kells, County Meath on Saturday 3rd May.2014. This is part of the massive destruction and defoliation now taking place across our land. This destroys habitat, food supply, resting and nesting sites and it removes the look and beauty of our land too. It is not what a modern European land should be allowing, especially one supposedly building a smart economy. The little land reclaimed from this, must be considered against the monetary cost and the destruction and problems this will also cause in the long term. The smoke is from burning foliage. Can this be legal???

2. Sad.
Well it looks like some heavy hitters have came in to help me on this, finally, so will there be a prosecution? Definitely? Well no, just maybe! That’s how it is here. However even if there is, this was still just one field, along one road we happened to be travelling on, in one county, on one day. Had we driven down other roads, on other days, in other counties, we would have seen a multiple of this too. It is happening everywhere. Sad too that when in contact with government departments there is such lack of precise knowledge on what is happening and allowed. On the new farm measures introduced by Ministers Coveney and Hogan in 2011 in particular, there is only confusion. No one seems to know the parameters of these or guidelines. This was foreseen and warnings were issued about the cumulative effects of these measures when they were introduced but these warnings were ignored. These warnings made clear that these measures would in time lead to the destruction of our countryside, now that is precisely what seems to be happening.
On this above matter I was told that the felling of trees always needs a license but if hedges have no trees in them, then it is different, “If they are just a line of bushes etc”.  I pointed out that all hedges are made up of trees; Blackthorn, Whitethorn, Elder, Ash etc, so do these trees have no protection? The answer was yes, then no, finally maybe! What is scrub if not trees growing free?  Also on the current opt out clauses there is only confusion. The Forestry and Wildlife Acts have them; “in the normal course of forestry and farming, under health and safety, road building” etc,… but there is little if any clarity on these either. These seem to open the doors to a free for all in felling etc. This may go some way to explaining why so few if any cases of illegal hedge and tree felling are followed through or come before the courts. Sad indeed that our attitude to our environment has become so convoluted, even at official levels. 
I believe that it has been convoluted purposely, especially by the politicians that house themselves in these departments. The fragmentation of environmental (and Heritage) care, away from the Department of the Environment, into different departments, enables this confusion and so it is seen as normal. It makes hedge and tree clearance easier, something businessmen and farmer lobbies want. Farmers are now the major destroyers of our environment with regards to water quality, foliage removal, one off house building etc, and their political lackeys seem duty bound to obey them, not the reverse as it should be. Sustainability and the common good has become a laugh and this must be considered true.
Sad too that so many groups and individuals, who claim affinity with trees and their care, step aside or refuse to answer basic questions when these problems arise. In general nearly all refuse to help. 
This points either to arrogance or to a change in our ancient affinity with our land; Ireland. I deeply believe that the modern Irish are not the friends of nature or trees anymore, unlike in the past when we held them, and our land, in reverence; even if we so desperately pretend otherwise still. We push a false green image and we seem destined to do this to the death. The Irish in general now help destroy their own land, they aid this ecocide simply by indifference and this won’t have a nice end. 
Like in the fields of economics and child care etc, we will be eventually found out and exposed for what we really are! It may take an environmental nightmare for this to happen, but happen it will. Perhaps the outbreak of mass tree death due to fungal or bacteriological pathogens spreading through the remaining mangled hedges, now without their natural protective barriers may do it. It may be the appearance of insect borne diseases, infecting humans due to bird populations falling, but ultimately this will happen. Then we will answer the questions; asked perhaps by our unfortunate children.

So no, it did not go to plan as it should.
On Saturday May 3rd, I stopped to watch hedges and trees being removed and destroyed near Kells Co Meath. This was in nesting times and so I believe illegal. It was large scale, using bulldozers, and the burning foliage was visible from the road. I took photos of all this and on Monday I informed all government departments concerned, as we are constantly being told to do. The answers I received by those who answered became so convoluted that it seemed they wanted to confuse things and so slip away. I was repeatedly told that a felling licence was needed but... was it really happening? The National Parks And Wildlife Services; the government agency that is mandated to check illegal tree felling were told on Monday morning too, by email and with good directions to the site; they answered me today, on Thursday morning:
“ Hi John
Thanks for your email in relation to hedge/tree cutting along the old N3 at Kells. As far as I am aware the area you are talking about the trees/hedge were cut before the 1st of March and therefore outside the remit of the Wildlife Act which protects nesting birds. Section 40, 46 of the Wildlife Acts protect nesting birds for 6 months of the year (1st March to 31st August) and hedge cutting is prohibited, although there are some exemptions. If the material is being burnt now this would possibly be a Local Authority issue (Air pollution)? Tree cutting does come under the remit of the forest service for 12 months of the year and a felling licence is usually required, not sure if this would apply to this issue? Although the ranger that covers this area is on leave at the moment if you think growing trees/hedges are still being cut at the site I could investigate the issue.
Annette Annette Lynch, CR
National Parks and Wildlife Service, Government Buildings, Athlumney, Navan, Co Meath, 

Mobile 086 8050242
Well by now they are probably finished with the hedges there and the contractors have moved onto the next hedges probably, secure in the knowledge that nothing will ever happen, reported or not. I have photos and witnesses that they were cutting these hedges, removing these hedges with bulldozers, on Saturday, May 3rd. We witnessed this. It was easy to see and would be still I hope, if anyone bothered to go and look! Yet here again is a Government Department reusing to do their most basic work. Last week on Morning Ireland, on this very issue, a Government minister, insisted that if illegal hedge and tree felling is happening then people have a duty to report it to the Department of Forestry, Tree`Felling Section, to The National Parks And Wildlife Services and the Local Authority etc. I did all this and I am told it is not happening. And how do they all know this; well because they have no one prepared to go and investigate it, they are on leave; that’s how.

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