A man has been sentenced to pay €6,000 in fines for destroying hedgerow vegetation, and trees containing birds' nests with eggs.
Mr Brian O Reilly, Clonagh, Hollywood, County Laois, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife Acts, which took place on lands at Ballickmoyler, Co. Laois between May 8th and 11th of this year.
Two of the summonses related to the destruction of fifty-four mature hardwood trees and twelve hundred meters of hedgerow vegetation, two more summonses for the wilful destruction of the nests and the eggs of protected wild birds, and one summons for procuring and paying others to take part of these offenses.
District Conservation Officer Kieran Buckley of the National Parks and Wildlife Service told Judge Geraldine Carty that the NPWS uncovered evidence that 1,200 meters of hedgerows, three and a half acres of vegetation, and 54 mature trees had been destroyed.
He then told the Judge that they found the nests of blackbirds, blue-tits, song thrush, wren, hedge sparrow, chaffinch, and woodpigeon were destroyed, while two of them contained the broken eggs of a chaffinch and a hedge sparrow.
The court also heard that five Oak, twenty-seven Ash, twenty Whitethorn, one Crab Apple, and one Holly Tree were cut down.
Mr. Buckley told the court that the scale of the damage was the most significant he had ever encountered in the course of his work for NPWS, and that broken eggs and destroyed nests underpin the reason why vegetation is protected during the bird nesting season.
Under Section 40 of the wildlife act, any cutting, grubbing, burning or destruction of vegetation growing on uncultivated land during the nesting and breeding season for birds and wildlife is banned from the 1st March to the 31st August.
Mr O'Reilly was told that his actions represented an unacceptable loss for birds during their breeding season, damaged the wider environment, and did nothing to help combat Climate Change.
He pleaded guilty to all five summons, and was given a fine of €6,000 to be paid within 120 days.