Hedgerows Ireland has written to Coolmore Stud owner John Magnier due to concerns the group holds over the company’s alleged extensive hedgerow removal.

The group says it has received multiple complaints from farmers and community members in Tipperary about large lengths of ditches allegedly cleared by Coolmore on lands acquired in areas including Fethard, Lisronagh and New Inn.

While Hedgerows Ireland is concerned about Coolmore’s hedge removal, as permission is not required for the removal of up to 500m of hedge, there is no suggestion that the stud is doing anything illegal.

In a letter seen by the Irish Farmers Journal and dated 10 January, Hedgerows Ireland secretary Alan Moore requested a meeting with Magnier. At the time of print, there had been no response from anyone at Coolmore regarding the meeting request.

Information request

Separately, Moore confirmed that his group has sought information from the Department of Agriculture concerning the extent of hedgerow removal on Coolmore’s lands.

The information is sought under Access to Information on the Environment (AIE), a regulatory provision for information relating to environmental impact, similar to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

The department has so far not provided Hedgerows Ireland with the hedgerow removal data it is seeking.

The group’s move to highlight concerns relating to Coolmore’s alleged extensive hedgerow clearance comes as part of a wider campaign it has.

It is seeking action by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue to reduce the length at which a landowner does not need permission to clear hedgerow from 500m to 20m.

Moore insisted that Hedgerows Ireland is not “anti-farmer”.

“Many of our members are farmers. We genuinely wish to build a positive relationship with farming organisations,” he said.

Hedgerows Ireland recently protested at Dáil Éireann to draw attention to what it says is 3,000km of hedgerow removed annually.

A letter the group sent to Minister McConalogue outlining its concerns and requests has so far gone unanswered.

Statement from a spokesman for Coolmore:

“In the interest of biodiversity and sustainability, Coolmore’s policy is to plant hedgerow replacements well in advance of removing any section of existing hedgerow.

“Typically, this involves pre-planting multiples of any hedgerow due to be removed, drawing on third-party professionals including environmental consultants and an arborist.

“Last year, Coolmore pre-planted three-and-a-half times the amount of hedgerow removed.

“Planting decisions are informed by optimising land use for sustainable farming and also for biodiversity. A total of 90% of grassland fields at Coolmore are below 5ha in size.

“A total of 20% of land is protected for the natural environment and wildlife. Hedgerows are an important feature in Coolmore’s landscape as anyone who has visited the farm will know. They provide a multiple of ecosystem services and sequester carbon and they also give Coolmore its distinctive character and field pattern.

“Coolmore has adopted and continues to implement a sustainability strategy that involves numerous initiatives such as growing and planting trees, testing water, analysing soil and ensuring a diversity of habitats including hedges, streams, native woodlands and species rich pastures.

“For example, as part of the farm’s work to protect water quality, hedgerows and woodland are used as buffers intercepting overland flow, and retaining sediment and phosphorus as well as reducing flood risk.”

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Farmers must plant twice the length of any hedge removed