Hedge cutting illegal before end of summer

FERMANAGH farmers and anyone hoping to give their boundaries a trim at the moment has been reminded it’s a criminal offence to cut hedges, trees or scrub before the end of August.
Local police have shared a warning issued by the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU) after reports of hedge cutting taking place right across the North in recent times. 
The UFU reminded the public that the law is there to protect the wildlife that make their homes in hedge and tree growth at this time of year.
“Cross-compliance rules are in place to protect hedges, and particularly to protect birds nesting in hedges by preventing the cutting of hedges between March 1 – 31 August 31,” said a UFU spokesman. The Wildlife and Natural Environment (NI) Act 2011, also protects nesting birds and it is an offence under this legislation to disturb nesting birds, their chicks, nests or eggs at any time of the year. 
The PSNI have powers under this legislation.”
The spokesman added the legislation also applies to tree or scrub cutting, and the coppicing of hedges.
They continued: “It should also be noted that hedgerow trees with a trunk diameter greater than 100cm, may only be removed with prior permission from DAERA and permission is also required for the removal of hedges.”
The spokesman said continued breaches of these rules could result in some farmers facing penalties.
“With the current financial pressures and cash flow issues on farms, farmers should not take risks which could see penalties being applied or delays to area payments later in the year,” they said.
There are some exceptions, however, with hedge cutting allowed whenever health and safety is a concern, for example.

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