Since 1 September, farmers are permitted to resume hedge-cutting.

New rules were introduced in 2020 regulating the cutting of hedgerows on farms availing of a nitrates derogation.

These farmers have three options.

  • They can leave a whitethorn or blackthorn plant grow and mature every 300m in a hedgerow. This plant should not be cut and the flowers and fruit it grows will provide food, shelter and a habitat for birds and bees.
  • Another option is to cut hedges on a three-year cycle, meaning farmers can cut one side of a hedge one year, the top of a hedge another year and the other side another year.
  • The final option is to cut hedges in rotation rather than all at once, which means there are always some hedgerows capable of flowering on the farm.
  • According to the all-Ireland pollinator plan, from which the nitrates derogation measures are derived from, roadside hedges may be cut for safety reasons, but it does say that the inside of the hedge should be allowed to flower.

    There is some confusion among farmers as to what constitutes a road safety issue.

    However, if a hedge is restricting the view of motorists, then one would imagine that it is a road safety issue.