The removal of hedgerows to make way for a cycle lane and footpath near a Laois school has been branded as ‘totally unacceptable’ by the Green Party.
Their representative in the Portarlington-Graiguecullen local electoral area, John Holland, has expressed his shock and dismay at the removal of about 200m of dense, mature, and biodiversity-rich native hedgerows and trees on Canal Road in Portarlington.
This, he says, has been done to make room for a dual cycle lane and footpath next to Scoil Phadraig.
Mr Holland says the destruction of native hedgerows has taken place during the prohibited bird nesting season. He says that in accordance with the Wildlife Act, hedge cutting is banned between March 1 and August 31.
John said: “This is totally unacceptable. While I am strongly supportive of more cycling and walking infrastructure in Portlarlington, this is not the way to go about it.
“We are in the midst of a climate and biodiversity crisis, and the removal of a significant length of hedgerow, at the height of the bird nesting season is wholly inappropriate.
“I have received numerous calls from local residents who are as appalled as I am at the destruction that has taken place.
“Some of these residents live directly behind the area where the hedgerow was cleared, and are devastated to see its removal.
“It not only provided a pollution, safely, and noise buffer for them, it also added greatly to the biodiversity of the whole area.
“The installation of cycle lanes is very important and is something I care a lot about … but not at the huge cost to the environment evidenced by this scale of hedgerow removal.
“I am also calling on Laois County Council to justify what the urgent need was for this clearance to take place, and that they sought and obtained ecological advice, to check the hedges for nests and small mammals prior to this hedgerow removal.
“The National Parks and Wildlife Service has been informed.
“We urgently need to wake up to the biodiversity crisis, and we need our local authorities to lead on this.
“Our natural world has been decimated by our thoughtless and unsustainable methods of development.
“The irony is that this destruction has taken place on National Biodiversity Week. Today (Saturday) is World Biodiversity Day! Not in Portarlington it seems.”