Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts 1976 to 2012 prohibits the cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation, with certain strict exemptions, from 1 March to 31 August during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife. Vegetation such as hedgerows and scrub is important as wildlife habitat and needs to be managed in the interests of both farming and biodiversity and therefore a review of the current legislation was initiated to ensure that it remains both effective and balanced.
A number of stakeholders had been seeking an opportunity to input their views on the operation of Section 40 of the Acts and in November 2014 the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht announced a consultation process which provided that opportunity. The 188 submissions received are published below. In summary, 105 submissions were from members of the public, 44 from representative bodies , 28 from other government bodies/local authorities, 8 from elected representatives and 5 from businesses/consultancies.
The Minister has established a Working Group, consisting of officials from the Department, to consider the submissions received and to report back to her with a range of proposals. The outcome of the review is expected in the near future.
It should be noted that any changes proposed to the closed period or other provisions in Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts would require amending legislation.