Section 8 of the bill, which proposes to allow some hedge-cutting in August and vegetation burning in March on a two-year pilot basis, was not scheduled for debate – yet it was again a hot discussion topic after a similar session last November.

Several opposition senators spoke at length to oppose relaxing the dates. Independent Senator David Norris described the bill as “an election gimmick to buy the farmers’ vote”. Labour Senator Kevin Humpreys argued that farmers could lose out on EU payments as environmental conditions become stricter and warned against the knock-on effect of reduced pollinator activity on farming.