A Kildare farmer was ordered to pay over €2,500 for the destruction of vegetation on uncultivated land during bird nesting season earlier this month.

On Monday 1 March, Robert Conlon, Athgarvan, Co Kildare, appeared before Naas District Court charged with two offences under the Wildlife Acts, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said in a statement.

The case was taken on behalf by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS) of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage.

Both offences occurred on 15 July 2019 at Dunmurry, Co Kildare.

The first charge relates to Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts, which makes it an offence to destroy vegetation on uncultivated land during the bird nesting season, which runs from 1 March to 31 August each year.

Guilty plea

The defendant was also charged under Section 69 of the Wildlife Acts for aiding and abetting the Section 40 offence. He pleaded guilty to both charges.

Kieran Buckley, a conservation ranger with the NPWS, outlined to Judge Desmond Zaidan that on the day of the offence he observed a significant amount of vegetation had been destroyed in an area near Dunmurry House.

Buckley told the Judge that Conlon cut the vegetation at a particularly sensitive time of the year when young birds are still in their nests - and which are hidden among vegetation.

Judge Zidane said he was aware that there was a lot of this type of activity going on and wondered why it cannot be done outside of the nesting season, to protect wild birds.

Buckley was asked if the act was carried out with malice. He explained that Conlon told him that he was "tidying up the place” and claimed the defendant seemed indifferent to the consequences of his actions.

Prosecuting counsel Gareth Robinson BL told the judge that Wildlife Act offences carry a class A fine of up to €5,000 for each summons.

When asked by the judge what the costs were, Mr Robinson replied €1,000. The judge revised this figure to €500, plus VAT.

Defence council for Conlon told the court that her client, who farms land in Dunmurry, was prepared to make a charitable donation of €1,000.

Judge Zidane replied that this figure was insufficient and imposed a €2,000 fine on Conlon for the Section 40 offence, ordered that he pay the €500 plus VAT and took into consideration the Section 69 offence.

Buckley nominated the Irish Wildlife Trust as the recipients of the fine imposed.

Read more

Illegal burning ‘must stop’ as wildfires scorch Wicklow

NPWS review to ensure it is ‘fit-for-purpose’