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Councillors claim overgrown hedgerows taking out vehicle wing mirors

VEGETATION encroaching on a number of roads in East Clare has resulted in drivers losing wing mirrors and windscreens, a meeting of the Killaloe Municipal District has heard.
The topic was raised by Councillor Pat Burke who described it as “a famous item” as it is comes up so often.
“Many landowners do great work, but there are still sections of our roads where they don’t,” he said.
“In this day and age, people deserve better, particularly drivers of HGVs. The problem hasn’t gone away.
“The council are doing their bit and lots of landowners do good work. Some respond to letters from the Municipal District office, but others don’t. It’s a major problem.
“Last Saturday, a lorry driver broke a mirror. In this day and age, it’s not good enough. Driving a car is no problem, but if you’re in a lorry or a tractor, mirrors are at risk. It’s awful to think you have to keep out to save a mirror. A man lost a windscreen in a truck a few years ago.”
Cathaoirleach Joe Cooney said, as someone who has raised the issue many times, he supported Councillor Burke.
“Every road is affected and every road should have hedges cut at least once a year,” he said.
“With overhanging vegetation HGVs have to stay in the middle of the road and there will be a serious accident.
“Some landowners are doing a fantastic job and it’s pleasure to see what they’re doing. Others, pay no heed whatsoever no matter what warnings they get from the county council.
2I’ve said this at the council meeting and it’s now time for action. We could end up with a fatality on our roads. Is there more action we can take to get landowners to carry out their duties?”
Councillor Alan O’Callaghan said he had experience of the issue himself.
“I was the recipient of broken mirror and breaks to glass on two side doors,” he said.
“It’s dangerous when you’re trying to pick steps down narrow roads and avoid those coming against you. It’s an issue for milk deliveries.
“This is a bone of contention for many years. We have to keep the pressure on. A lot more has been done this year than in other years.
“There has been a lot of hedge cutters on the roads. Maybe, through the IFA, we could raise issue. We have done so in the past with IFA members on the Joint Policing Committee.”
Councillor Pat Hayes suggested there could be merit in removing heavy vegetation on certain routes.
“Verge trimming is one thing, but branches are costly,” he said. “The Broadford to Limerick road was done with heavy timbers removed. We could put General Municipal Allocation towards that because some roads are particularly dangerous.”
Responding, Senior Executive Engineer (SEE) said that council had been “quite proactive” this year in dealing with hedges.
“Responsibility primarily rests with landowners,” she said. “Unfortunately there are a number who are just not fulfilling their obligations under the Roads Act.
“We have gone back through the files and sent out a number of letters. We have examined dangerous areas. As soon as something is highlighted, we go out and investigate and if a letter is required, we send it out.
“We are constantly cutting hedges on regional roads. This is ongoing. We are doing that. We do need buy-in from landowners, it’s really important. It’s not going to be solved without buy-in and responsibility.
“We are engaging constantly with Coillte with regards to their forestry. We are trying to do as much as we can. It does go back to landowners in a significant number of cases.”

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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