Senator Alice-Mary Higgins joins environmental groups voicing strong opposition to the Heritage Bill 2016

Leinster House was abuzz with beekeepers from across Ireland voicing strong opposition while the Heritage Bill was being debated in the Seanad on Thursday March 2nd. Beekeepers dressed in their full regalia were joined by tiny bees, birds from Birdwatch Ireland and supporters of the Irish Wildlife Trust, An Taisce and the Hedgelaying Association. 

This marks the third time that the Heritage Bill has been debated at committee stage in the Seanad, meeting strong opposition on each occasion. The debate will resume in a few weeks and Senator Higgins will continue to strongly oppose this flawed Bill, particularly Section 8 which would extend burning and cutting of uplands and hedgerows right into March and August - nesting season for many birds and a crucial time for bees to gather the pollen they need to make it throughout winter. 

Importantly, it is clear also that this Bill is nothing to do with road safety, as has been claimed by the Minister. Section 70 of the Road Traffic Act already permits hedge-cutting at any time of the year where road safety is a concern.

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Over months of coordinated pressure and opposition in the Seanad led by Senator Alice-Mary Higgins, the Government had been forced to dilute highly controversial proposals in Heritage Bill 2016. However, a last minute amendment from Minister Humphries at the final stage of the bill in the Seanad threatens to undo much of the progress won.