A Galway farmer has received a €3,000 fine for destroying 755m of hedgerows and 0.7 acres of scrub woodland, at Nenagh District Court on Thursday 9 September.
Anthony Ryan, Derryhiney, Portumna, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to two offences under the Wildlife Act.
The offences took place on lands at Redwood, Lorrha, Co Tipperary, between 19 and 26 May 2020.
The case was taken by the National Parks & Wildlife Service (NPWS).
NPWS district conservation officer Áine Lynch told Judge Elizabeth McGrath that on 26 May 2020, the NPWS arrived in Redwood to investigate a complaint.
They uncovered evidence that 755m of hedgerows and 0.7 acres of scrub woodland had been cut and grubbed at.
The court was shown photographs showing large piles of vegetation and mature trees grubbed out by the roots.
Lynch told the court that this work had been carried out at the height of the bird nesting season when breeding birds were at their most vulnerable.
The court heard that the hedgerows on site were mature and species-rich and would have provided nesting opportunities for a range of bird species.
The court was also told that while hedgerows were important for nesting birds, they were also home to a range of other species from mammals to invertebrates and that this work would have caused severe disturbance.
In relation to the scrub woodland, Lynch told the court that such habitats were also important and provided a home for other species, such as long eared owl, and that “when they were gone, they were gone”.
In conclusion, the judge told Mr Ryan that, as a farmer, he should be fully aware of the bird nesting season.
Judge McGrath said that Section 40 is not a bureaucratic law, it exists to protect birds and their habitat. The habitat that Mr Ryan removed has been lost forever and cannot be replaced.
Judge McGrath convicted Mr Ryan and imposed a total fine of €3,000 for the two offences.