Tipperary has seen the highest number of hedge-cutting prosecutions over the last decade, with a total of 15 cases brought through the courts.

A total of 139 prosecutions have been taken under section 40 of the Wildlife Act across all counties between 2011 and 2021.

Prosecutions have increased nationwide in recent years following a slump to two cases in 2013. In 2021, some 31 individuals were prosecuted.

Section 40 of the Wildlife Act governs the control of burning and hedge cutting. A closed period between 1 March and 31 August is set out in the legislation, during which a prohibition is in place on the destruction of any vegetation on “land not then cultivated” and of any vegetation growing in a ditch or hedge.

In figures released by the Department of Housing, which detail the number and location of hedge-cutting prosecutions over the last decade, a number of trends can be seen.

The year 2011 saw a relatively high level of prosecutions, with 22 taken across all counties.

However, this dropped to a low of two in 2013 and remained in single digits until 2018. The last four years have seen the prosecution rate almost double, with 13, 12, 25 and 31 prosecutions taken in 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively.


The rate of prosecution has not been evenly spread across all counties.

Some counties, including Tipperary (15), Westmeath (14), Galway (12) and Cavan (11), have experienced a consistently higher number of prosecutions over the past 10 years.

Other counties seem to have minimal to no prosecutions for illegal hedge-cutting. These include Wexford (0), Carlow (1), Sligo (1) and Louth (1).

Co Cork had just one prosecution taken under the act for the nine years to 2020 and then had the highest number of prosecutions in 2021, at six, bringing its total to seven.

Recent prosecutions

Earlier this month, a Mayo landowner was convicted and fined €500 with five months to pay at Castlebar District Court for vegetation destruction during bird nesting season in the townland of Largan, Tulrohan, Co Mayo.

There had been just four similar prosecutions in Mayo in the 10 years prior to this.

Elsewhere, in November, a Kilkenny farmer was fined €1,250 and ordered to pay costs of €735 for the removal of 400m of mature hedgerow during bird nesting season.

This individual was just the second to be prosecuted under the act in the county between 2011 and 2021.

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