A Laois man received a €6,000 fine after it was found he destroyed 1,200 of hedgerows, 3.5ac of vegetation and 54 mature trees at Carlow District Court on Thursday 2 September.

Mr Brian O Reilly, Clonagh, Hollywood, Co Laois, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife Acts.

The offences took place on lands at Ballickmoyler, Co Laois, between 8 and 11 May 2020.

The case was taken by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

NPWS district conservation officer Kieran Buckley told Judge Geraldine Carty that on 12 May 2020 the NPWS arrived in Ballickmoyler to investigate a complaint. They uncovered evidence that 1,200m of hedgerows, three and a half acres of vegetation and 54 mature trees had been destroyed.

Buckley told the judge that they found the nests of blackbirds, blue-tits, song thrush, wren, hedge sparrow, chaffinch, and woodpigeon destroyed.

Buckley said the scale of the damage was the most significant he had ever encountered.

In April, Laois farmer Rory O’Brien, 27 Killenard Lodge, Killenard, Portarlington, pleaded guilty to the destruction of a hedgerow and verbally abused a National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) conservation ranger. He was charged and fined €3,200 at Portlaoise District Court.

Three prosecutions were taken under the Wildlife Acts. These included the destruction of vegetation growing during the bird nesting season, refusing to give his correct name and address, and obstructing and abusing a NPWS conservation ranger during his investigation.

Offaly case

Separately, an Offaly farmer was fined €1,000 for the destruction of vegetation during the bird nesting season in July.

Mr Desmond Bagnall, a farmer from Killellery, Geashill, Co Offaly, was before Tullamore District Court charged with a breach of Section 40 of the Wildlife Acts, involving the destruction of vegetation during the bird nesting season.