Convicted and fined €3,000 for destroying hedgerow and scrub woodland

Date Released: Monday, October 18, 2021

A Galway farmer has been convicted and fined €3,000 for destroying 755 meters of hedgerows and 0.7 acres of scrub woodland at a farm in County Tipperary.

At a sitting of Nenagh District Court on Thursday the 9th of September, Mr. Anthony Ryan, Derryhiney, Portumna, Co. Galway pleaded guilty to two offences under the Wildlife Acts. The offences took place on lands at Redwood, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary between May 19th and 26th, 2020.

One of the summonses related to the destruction of 0.7 acres of scrub woodland, while the second summons related to the destruction of growing vegetation in 755m of hedgerow by cutting and grubbing.

The case was taken by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage and prosecuted by Mr. William Maher BL and Michelle O Connell of Michelle O Connell Solicitors Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

Outlining the facts of the case, District Conservation Officer Dr. Áine Lynch of the NPWS told Judge Elizabeth McGrath that on the 26th of May, 2020, herself and Conservation Ranger Dr. Ciara Powell arrived in Redwood to investigate a complaint that hedgerows and mature trees had been destroyed.

On the day of the investigation, they uncovered evidence that 755 meters of hedgerows and 0.7acres of scrub woodland had been cut and grubbed at. The court heard and was shown photographs showing large piles of vegetation and mature trees grubbed out by the roots.

Dr. Lynch told the court that this work had been carried out at the height of the bird nesting season when breeding birds were at their most vulnerable. The court heard that the hedgerows on site were mature and species rich and would have provided nesting opportunity for a range of bird species. The court was also told that while hedgerows were important for nesting birds, they were also home to a range of other species from mammals to invertebrates and that this work would have caused severe disturbance. In relation to the scrub woodland, Dr. Lynch told the court that such habitats were also important and provided a home for other species, such as Long Eared Owl and that “when they were gone they were gone.”

In summation, the Judge told Mr Ryan that as a farmer, he should be fully aware of the bird nesting season. Judge McGrath said that Section 40 is not a bureaucratic law, it exists to protect birds and their habitat. The habitat that Mr Ryan removed has been lost forever and cannot be replaced. Judge McGrath convicted Mr. Ryan and imposed a total fine of €3,000 for the two offences.

Vegetation Destruction