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Councillor Joe Cooney, Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District.

Cooney calls for publicity around hedge-cutting duties

THE Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe Municipal District has called for a major media campaign next month to make landowners aware of their responsibilities when it comes to hedge-cutting.
At the July meeting of the local authority, Councillor Joe Cooney noted that hedge-cutting, other than essential safety work, is prohibited between the start of March and the end of August, but insisted that more publicity is needed so that works can be carried out promptly from September 1. “There’s a lot of traffic on the roads at the moment,” the Fine Gael member said. “There’ll be schools traffic returning at the end of August and the start of September and we need to make sure that hedge cutting is being done, within the guidelines, to ensure safety.”
The Broadford man welcomed a response from Senior Engineer John Leahy which outlined that funding of €95,000 has been allocated to hedge-cutting this year. “This is fantastic to see,” said Councillor Cooney. “Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal though and it’s important to highlight the responsibilities of landowners and to encourage them to work with the local authority. The likes of the Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme is in place since 2013 and we should be making more use of the media to make landowners aware of it. We need to make sure the work is done early in September in the interest of road safety.”
Concerns about overgrowth arising at junctions were raised by Councillor Michael Begley. “This seems to be getting restricted,” he said. “Sight lines are not being achieved in some cases and it seems to be influenced by the pollinator policy. Road safety comes before that and should take precedence over environmental issues.”
The matter was raised again by Councillor Cooney at last week’s meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District when he reiterated his call for a publicity campaign.
“We need to see some action in mid-August to put a drive on to landowners ahead of opening of schools,” he said. “Some local and minor roads are in a dangerous way and some cutting is being done at junctions. We do need to make sure the hedge cutting grant schemes are publicised. A lot of good work but some people getting laid back about their hedge cutting. We must get a publicity drive on and get forms out so that people can avail of the supports.”
In a written reply to the county council motion, Senior Engineer John Leahy noted that hedge-cutting is restricted under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act (1976) between March 1 and August 31 every year. Only work to facilitate public health and safety is allowed during this period.
He outlined the council’s role in ensuring public roads are free of any obstruction caused by overgrown trees, verges and hedgerows and noted that landowners are responsible, under the Roads Act (1993) for trees, hedgerows, etc, on or inside their boundaries adjacent to public roads. “The Act obliges landowners and occupiers to take all reasonable care to ensure that such trees, hedges and other vegetation are not or could not become a danger to people using or working on a public road,” the response outlined.
Mr Leahy added that hedge-cutting notices may be served on landowners that are not engaging with the local authority.
He outlined that the budget allocated for necessary cutting of hedges along “strategically important routes” for this year is €95,000 and added that the Community Hedge-cutting Grant Scheme will be advertised in the coming weeks “to facilitate those wishing to cut roadside hedges & trees from September”.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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