The Climate Bar Association welcomes the introduction of the Protection of Hedgerows Bill 2024 in Dáil Éireann today

22 May 2024

22 May 2024

The Protection of Hedgerows Bill, will be introduced by Green Party TD Marc Ó Cathasaigh today.

This Bill, which has been co-signed by Brian Leddin TD and Steven Matthews TD was originally drafted by the Hedgerows Legislation Project, an Independent group of barristers who are also members of Comhshaol – The Climate Bar Association, in collaboration with Hedgerows Ireland (Tipperary).

The Bill introduces the concept of ‘significant hedgerows’ which will be protected and can only be removed in specified circumstances.

Native hedgerows provide corridors for wildlife and are fundamental to the Irish landscape because of their significant contribution to biodiversity, flood control, soil protection, carbon storage, shelter, shade, animal welfare, pest control and beauty. 

The fact that Ireland has the lowest level of native woodland cover in Europe, places a greater importance on the role played by native hedgerows.

Leesha O’Driscoll SC, Chair of the Hedgerows Legislation Project, said,

It is fitting that that the Bill is being introduced into the Dáil during National Biodiversity Week.  We are delighted to have played a role in getting this Bill into the public domain and are very grateful to Deputy Ó Cathasaigh and his fellow TDs for taking this action.

We hope the Bill will receive support from all parties because the evidence for the protection of significant hedgerows is compelling. They provide services to our ecosystems, biodiversity, agricultural systems, and contribute to the value and integrity of our archaeological, heritage and cultural sites.

The Protection of Hedgerows Bill, as drafted on a pro bono basis by a group of independent barristers, was originally launched alongside The Bar of Ireland’s Natural Justice Campaign in 2023.

Why legislate for the protection of hedgerows?

The Protection of Hedgerows Bill 2023, prepared by a working Group of Comhshaol – The Climate Bar Association, seeks to safeguard the native Irish hedgerow, a crucial element of our landscape and natural heritage that provides vital ecosystem services such as carbon sequestration and reservoirs of biodiversity.

Comhshaol – The Climate Bar Association is one of 17 Specialist Bar Associations of The Bar of Ireland, which aims to pursue practical green and environmental initiatives within the Law Library and surrounding neighbourhoods. It is a think-tank of environmental law expertise and thought leaders in environmental law and biodiversity protection for the Irish legal community and for Irish society. This supports the Bar of Ireland’s public service objectives as well as raising the profile and highlighting the expertise of the Bar externally.

Hedgerows Ireland (Tipperary) is an environmental group dedicated to all aspects of hedgerow welfare including promotion, education, farm payments and protection. It was established in 2019 as a protest group in response to the unnecessary removal by Irish Rail of hedgerows along the railway line near Clonmel.  When it discovered that there was no organization representing the broader welfare of Irish hedgerows, it widened its remit to all aspects of these vital landscape corridors.