Currently hedgecutting dates run from 1 September to the end of February.

However, the Association of Farm and Forestry Contractors in Ireland (FCI) has called for an extension to this to allow for mid-year maintenance of hedgerows.

Tractors drivers are seeing “significant and expensive damage to tractor’s lighting and mirror systems as well as similar damage to trucks from unmanaged hedgerows,” FCI said.

“Visibility is severely restricted exiting fields on many of these roads due to non-existent hedge management.”

Road safety issue

As well as causing damage to tractor, the lack of hedgecutting is a serious road safety issue.

“European research has shown that most on-road accidents with farm machines happen at crossroads or intersections.

“In other words, when the farm vehicle turns left/right or enters a road from the field or from another road. In this particular situation, the operator of the farm vehicle needs good visibility in all directions of the road to see other vehicles and avoid accidents,” FCI told the Dáil transport committee.

The German Government are currently considering supporting land-based contractors to fit camera systems to the front of tractors where the distance from the driver’s seat to the front of the tractor extends more than 3.5 metres.

FCI called on the Irish government to support a similar initiative.

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