The IWT reluctantly welcomes the outcome of the Seanad debate on the Heritage Bill. The outcome is not what we would have liked as we strongly felt that hedge-cutting for health and safety issues are clearly already provided for in the Wildlife Act. Nevertheless, Fianna Fáil's amendment is a significant improvement on the blanket open season for hedge-cutting in August that had been proposed by Minister Heather Humphreys.
We acknowledge the welcome move by Fianna Fáil in protecting our natural heritage however the real thanks must go to Senator Grace O'Sullivan of the Green Party, Senators David Norris, Alice Mary Higgins, Kevin Humphreys of the Labour Party and others who were vigorous in their opposition from the start. We also can say for sure that that 27,000 people who signed the 'no to slash and burn' petition and emailed senators to make their feelings known were instrumental in swinging the vote (and especially Fianna Fáil) in our favour.
Unfortunately our work is not yet done as no decisions have been made on the proposed extension to burning dates into March. We simply cannot allow the destruction we saw to our countryside last weekend be legalised. The Bill therefore will be back in the Seanad on April 13th and we are urging people to once again have your voice heard by emailing your senator to let them know that destuctive burning must stop (and while you're at it make sure to thank them for protecting our hedgerows). The IWT will continue to do our bit in raising awareness of this important issue.