Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Proposed cattle grids deemed a 'hazard' to cyclists and drivers

Cyclists at Ballinastoe in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains. Photo: Michael Hanley.
Cyclists at Ballinastoe in the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains. Photo: Michael Hanley.

Martin Ryan

A Health and Safety report commissioned by South Dublin County Council has said that cattle grids in South Co Dublin would be an unwarranted hazard to cyclists and motorists.

Farmers in the area are looking for the cattle grids to be installed to help control livestock on commonages and stop them wandering off commonage areas.

They say the threat by a local authority to impose a complete ban on the use of cattle grids, which have been defined by a Health and Safety report “a hazard” to road users, is threatening a nightmare situation for livestock farmers in the area, who are mounting vigorous opposition.

Now, members of South Dublin County Council, who support farmers and rural dwellers in opposing the cattle grid ban by the Co. Council, have been warned of possible legal liability for the council on action being taken against the local authority for injuries by users because cattle grids “are dangerous”.

Cllr Deirdre O’Donovan, a native of Co Cork, who is strongly opposed to the passing of the motion by the council, has been supported by resident and farming groups.

“These grids which are very commonplace in other local authority mountain areas such as Mount Leinster in Carlow and Comeragh Mountains Waterford/Tipperary boarder, and widely across commonage areas in the UK without any safety difficulty to cyclists,” she said.

It's understood that local cycling clubs are in support of the cattle grids being put in place.

An assessment by the IFA has claimed that any restriction on the use of the mountain areas by sheep farmers would have detrimental ecological and economic effects on the areas.

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“The livestock have for generations helped to shape the valley and made it into the precious scenic commodity that it is. The task the sheep perform by roaming freely grazing the uplands is incalculable in biodiversity terms and our hope is that this can be maintained. 

"The demands to continue part time farmers is significant and would certainly be helped by the installation of these effective stock management tools,” the IFA stated in its analysis.

A Health and Safety report commissioned by the Council, and carried out by PMCE Consultants, said that they found no evidence of motor accidents in the area to which any blame could be attributed collisions with livestock, but said in its overall conclusion that grids would increase risks for other road users.

“The implementation of cattle grids as currently proposed is considered to result in there being an increased risk of collision and/or personal injury to road users. Safety concerns include: Reduced skid resistance and vibration for cyclists, resulting in loss of control type collisions (Cyclists travelling uphill are less stable). As the cattle grid locations are sited at or on an incline, cyclists could trap their wheel within the cattle grid, resulting in a loss of control type collision. Joggers who do not stop to use the by-pass could experience slips, trips or falls causing personal injury,” the report stated.

“Motorists (in particular motorcycles) will experience reduced skid resistance and vibration, resulting in loss of control type collisions” the report added. Cllr Donovan said that members have now requested further information, which to date has not been provided by the local authority, to support the justification of the proposed ban on cattle grids."

However, Cllr O Donovan said she and others are  looking for more details and legal clarification re the possible liability. "We maintain that other counties such as Kildare has lots of grids, sheep and cyclists and motorists and they all live happily with the grids."

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