Sunday 17 December 2017

RSA expert: Reporting overgrown hedges and verges to the local council saves lives

* Our RSA expert highlights the need to trim hedges and verges

Overgrown hedges can cause problems at this time of year.
Overgrown hedges can cause problems at this time of year.

Overgrown hedges and road-side verges pose problems this time of year.

That is especially the case on our smaller rural roads.

We at the Road Safety Authority are starting to get complaints from the public about the difficulties untrimmed verges and overgrown hedges are posing for pedestrians and cyclists.

We've also received a formal request from the Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee at Cork County Council, seeking our help on the issue.

Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 places responsibility for the maintenance of roadside hedges on the owners/occupiers of the adjoining lands.

The responsibility for the maintenance of roadside verges rests with the local authority.

But the season when this is permitted under the Wildlife Act is between the start of September and the end of February the following year.

The only exception is if there are road safety implications.

Generally, given the number of roads and funding issues, cutting verges has a low priority compared with other road maintenance elements.

And where work is carried out, priority is given to sight-lines at junctions or obstructions to road signs, for example.

This year Cork County Council is planning to step up its awareness campaign at the start of September to remind landowners of their hedge cutting responsibilities.

This will include placing ads in local newspapers, on local radio and on the Council's website.

We always say road safety is a shared responsibility, that if left up to state agencies alone, our road safety strategy will fail.

We will only make our roads a safer place if we all step up to the mark and take personal responsibility.

In this case, councils have an obligation to ensure that the road-side verge is maintained.

Equally, landowners and anyone living along the road side has a responsibility to check that hedges or trees on their property are not causing a hazard.

A vigilant public can also play a role here too: by reporting overgrowth to your local council.

Each local authority has powers to require landowners to take action where a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation is a potential hazard.

But it's not all stick.

There is a carrot approach too.

Cork County Council is proposing to pilot a community hedge-cutting grant scheme in one area similar to one currently operated by Clare County Council.

That scheme, in operation since 2013, encourages a joint approach with communities and groups of local residents and landowners, for cutting hedges and trees which need attention.

The grant will contribute €25 per km, which equates to about 40pc of the cost.

We have all been deeply saddened to hear of the recent tragic incident in Sligo, where a local council worker lost his life.

Our sympathy and condolences to family and friends.

Indo Motoring

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