Kerry dairy farmer Noel O’Connor will have to remove every inch of hedgerows on his farm due to a fireblight outbreak detected by the Department of Agriculture last May.

Farming near the village of Ardfert in the Kingdom, O’Connor has said his farm is walking with fireblight.

“All my ditches will have to be removed, I’d imagine sometime this summer. The big concern I have is the lack of communication from the Department of Agriculture in relation to their plan to remove it.

“I’m finding it very hard to plan for my year ahead knowing that at some stage they will be coming in, perhaps onto my silage ground, to take out hedges.

“I’ve had no contact at all from the Department since last year. We had to sow whitethorn hedging for our greening payment and we just went ahead and put it in because we got no advice on any other alternatives. Are we after wasting 40m of hedging just for it to be torn up again?

Fireblight, O’Connor said, is rampant around the area as well as in Adare and Co Clare too.

Complete disaster

The Department should have it under control at this stage, he argued, adding that there has been no joined up thinking on how to solve the matter at all.

“It’s a complete disaster to be honest. Are we going to get compensation to replant all our whitethorn and blackthorn hedges? There’s nobody telling us anything,” he said.

O’Connor was depopulated two years ago as a result of TB and is currently building back up cow numbers.

His big fear with hedgerows being removed is the disturbance to badger setts on his farm.

“We have six badger setts on the farm. I’m worried that if there’s badgers in those setts, they’re going to disturb them and we’re setting ourselves up for another outbreak. I can’t afford to go down with TB again,” he said.