The owner of one of the biggest country estates in Ireland has escaped with a €100 for the illegal felling of 296 ash trees at the estate.
At Ennis District Court, Judge Patrick Durcan imposed the fine on Kevin Farry of Newhall Estate outside Ennis, and also declined a State application for costs against Mr Farry.
Mr Farry pleaded guilty to the illegal felling that occurred in February of last year. The State stated that the fine that applied in the case totalled €18,793.
However, Judge Durcan opted not to impose the substantial fine having previously pointed out to the court that a heavy fine would achieve absolutely nothing and add another burden to the sinking of a very important property.
The estate is the former seat of an MP and more recently the home of a Second World War flying hero.
Forest service inspector with the Department of Agriculture, Kevin Keary, said that around 296 ash trees between 40 and 80 years old were knocked down for commercial gain for the production of hurley butts.
Mr Farry was required to carry out a bat survey for a tree felling licence for the area and this was not carried out. Judge Durcan said: “It seems to me that the main interest here is the bats, not the Newhall estate, not the house itself, not the forestry surrounding it.”
In reply, Mr Keary said: “We are not interested in the bats… I am interested in what is the summons which is 296 trees — that is the only reason why I am here.”
Imposing the €100 fine, Judge Durcan said that overshadowing the case “is the law of Europe which is the law of the land and the necessity to protect bats which of course is a legal obligation”.
Judge Durcan said: “I acknowledge that the duty exists and we employ a great cohort of civil servants to discharge that duty because that is the obligation imposed on us by virtue of our relationship with the EU.
He said: “On the other hand, the defendant, Kevin Farry, comes in here, he pleads guilty to the matter before the court.
“He very honestly and fulsomely outlines the difficulties he has in protecting, preserving, and attempting to enhance the Newhall estate. I have great sympathy for him and I have admiration for him in what he is attempting to do.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved