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Hedgerows are important heritage features. They provide food and shelter for a range of wildlife, including birds, insects and wildflowers and are an important part of our landscape.

The Wildlife Act, 1976 as amended by the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, gives some protection to wildlife in hedgerows. Under Section 46 of the Wildlife Amendment Act, 2000, it is forbidden to cut or remove hedgerows or destroy other vegetation during the bird nesting season, from the 1st of March to the 31st of August each year.

Summary Guidelines for hedgerow trimming to benefit wildlife.

 

  • Trim hedgerows in rotation, so that some areas are always left uncut
  • Aim to trim a hedge every three years.
  • Aim for a triangular 'A' shape and allow the top to grow as high as possible.
  • Aim to trim in late winter (January/February) so that vital nuts and berries are available as food for wildlife in the autumn.
  • Try to avoid spray drift and fertiliser from reaching the hedgerow - leave a 1.5m margin between crop or pasture and hedgerow.
  • Leave some trees to grow to full height.

The internet is a good resource for finding out more about hedgerows. The following website is an ongoing study of a Donegal hedgerow and is very useful for identifying flora and fauna

http://homepage.eircom.net/~hedgerow12/index.htm.

The Irish Wildlife Trust is also good for providing general advice:

http://www.iwt.ie/

The Organic Centre runs courses on hedgelaying as well as appreciating the value of hedgerows:

www.theorganiccentre.ie

Teagasc also offer advice:

http://www.teagasc.ie/advisory/environment/biodiversity.htm#commonhabitats

 

When hedgerows need to be trimmed, the hedge and tree cuttings should be reused or recycled in the following manner:

  • Allowing them to compost naturally back into the exisitng hedgerow
  • Mulching or shredding them on site
  • Tranport them to the nearest recycling centre for shredding or mulching
  • Storing them until dry and burning them in domestic fire. The cinders and ash should be spread thinly on the ground in calm conditions (wood ash is readily soluble unlike coal or turf ash). wooodash adds to the fertility of soil. If this is not possible, the ash should be considered to be municipal domestic waste and disposed of accordingly.

Where the above is not possible, it is permissable to burn this waste, but only in certain circumstances guided by the following regulations:

Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009

The purpose of these Regulations is to make more explicit the offence of disposal of waste by uncontrolled or unregulated burning and outlines the actions which are prohibited by the Regulations, including disposal of household waste within the curtilage of a building and backyard burning of waste. Waste burners are also outlawed unless regulated under the Air Pollution Act.

Exemption is provided for certain agricultural practices but only as a last resort and after specified steps are taken to, reduce and recycle waste arising. The Department has amended Regulation S.I. 286 of 2009 to extend until 1 January 2016, the exemption which exists to allow farmers, to burn such waste as a last resort generated by agricultural practices. These activities will require registration with Kildare County Council.

The burning of waste relates solely to material consisting of uncontaminated wood, trees, tree trimmings, leaves, brush or other similar waste generated by agriculture practices, but excluding garden and park wastes and cemetery wastes and wastes arising from infrastructural development works, provided that such burning is done as a final measure following the application of the waste hierarchy as described of section 5 of the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal By Burning) Regulations 2009.

Any uncontrolled burning of waste that causes, or is likely to cause, pollution is now explicitly in breach of both the Waste Management and Air Pollution legislation and Kildare County Council will instigate legal action against offenders.

If you require further information / clarification on this please contact the Environment Section at 045-980588

For further information or application form to notify Kildare County Council of the intention to carry out the disposal of Agricultural waste as described in the Regulations please visit www.environ.ie or download the application form at the bottom of this page.

Farm plastics

The Farm Plastic Regulations, 2001 (http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2001/en/si/0341.html) are designed to promote the collection and recovery of silage plastics waste.

The Regulations require Producers (importers and manufacturers) and Suppliers (merchants and contractors) to either:

1) Directly become involved in the recovery of silage plastics from their customers, i.e. offer a Deposit and Refund Scheme
Or,
2) Participate in a government approved silage plastics recycling scheme, i.e. become members of IFFPG, or purchase silage plastics from IFFPG members.

1) Deposit and Refund Scheme

Producers and Suppliers of silage plastics that choose to comply with the Regulations by offering a Deposit and Refund Scheme must meet many onerous obligations, including:

• Ensuring that purchaser of plastic pays a refundable deposit (€254 / tonne) at time of purchase
• Collecting or arranging for the collection of waste plastics
• Registering with the Local Authority within which they supply plastic
• Providing the local authority with information relating to the supply of farm plastics and the collection / recovery of waste plastics

2) IFFPG Membership

Alternatively, Producers and Suppliers of silage plastics can meet their obligations by becoming members of IFFPG, which is the sole government approved compliance scheme.

As members, they pay an Environmental Protection Contribution, more commonly referred to as the levy, of €100 for every tonne of plastic placed on the market. This fund is then used by IFFPG to pay for the collection and recycling of silage plastics.

Ireland's National Action Programme under the Nitrates Directive has been given legal effect by the Good Agricultural Practice for Protection of Waters Regulations 2010.
 
Good agricultural practice means farmers using fertilisers may only spread as much fertiliser as their crops need and fertilisers must not be spread at times of the year when the crops are not able to use them, and especially at times when they might find their way into water instead. All livestock manures and other organic fertilisers contain nitrogen and phosphorus. EU law means that surplus nitrogen and phosphorus must not be allowed to enter water. The Regulations include rules for using chemical fertiliser as well as livestock manure and other organic fertilisers, and they cover phosphorus as well as nitrogen.
The main elements of the Regulations are as follows:
  • You must not spread livestock manure and slurry containing more than 170 kgs of nitrogen per hectare in a year.
  • There are times of the year when you must not spread any fertiliser at all on your land, either organic or chemical. These are called the prohibited spreading periods.
  • You must not spread more fertiliser on your land than your crops need.
  • You must follow the rules about ploughing and applying non-selective herbicides.
  • You must keep various records, including records of the fertilisers you bring onto your holding or sent out of it. You have to keep records for each calendar year, which means 1 January to 31 December, and you must have them ready by 31 March of the following year. You are required to have records available on area farmed, cropping regime, types of livestock and numbers, storage facilities on farm etc.
STORAGE PERIODS FOR LIVESTOCK MANURE
The storage period specified for the purposes of Articles 9(2), 10(2),12 and 16(5)(b) of the Regulations is 16 weeks in relation to holdings in county Kildare.
 
PROHIBITED SPREADING PERIODS 
In county Kildare the period during which the application of fertilisers to land is prohibited is the period from-
(a) 15 September to 12 January in the case of the application of chemical fertiliser
(b) 15 October to 12 January in the case of the application of organic fertiliser (other than farmyard manure)
(c) 1 November to 12 January in the case of the application of farmyard manure.

Guidance for managing livestock near water sources

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