The Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors of Ireland (FCI) has called for the closed period for hedge-cutting on farms to be extended.

The hedge-cutting season ends on 1 March 2020.

It is looking for a two-week extension to the rule from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, until 17 March 2020.

The past number of weeks has experienced three times the rainfall over normal seasonal levels and there are just 10 days left for hedgerow management, according to the FCI.

“It is accepted that soils on many farms are saturated to the point of being waterlogged. This has brought field work to a standstill, especially in areas such as time-sensitive hedge management,” said FCI chair Richard White.


The FCI has had no response from the Department regarding a request in January for a decision on an extension to the hedgecutting dates for 2020.

“Farm contractors across Ireland have again reported this week that ground conditions in Irish fields have further deteriorated and field conditions for work on mechanised hedge management have been at their worst over a number of years,” said White.

Field conditions are unlikely to improve in the next week

“Field conditions are unlikely to improve in the next week, due to anticipated additional rainfall. As we come to the end of the mechanised hedge management period, the need for an extension has never been more urgent.

“The current closed period deadlines are no longer practical to take account of current weather conditions and in order to allow for the safe operating of hedge management machinery when working against unrealistic deadlines,” said White.

Year-round cutting

The FCI has also requested that the current legislation be changed to allow for the maintenance of all Irish roadside hedges and removal of all roadside trees for public safety reasons throughout the year and including outside of the current closed hedge management period.

It has also called on the role of local authorities to be strengthened so that they can carry out their mandate where they have a responsibility to all road users and their safety on all public roads.

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