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A council crew busy removing a large fallen tree. Photograph by John Kelly

Tree removal to begin in the interests of road safety

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DANGEROUS trees along roadsides in East Clare are to be removed in the coming months, a meeting of the Killaloe district has been told. 

The pledge was given on foot of a motion from Cathaoirleach, Councillor Alan O’Callaghan, who raised the issue at the January gathering. The Kilmurry man asked that “in light of yellow warnings for high winds … a survey to be carried out in this MD on roadside trees especially Ash where the die back has set in”.

A written reply to the motion from Derek Troy, Acting Senior Executive Engineer (SEE) outlined that following the consultation with members of the public and community groups, the required assessment reports had been completed, and that removal of trees would begin shortly. 

“In 2022, Killaloe MD identified a number of trees for Arboricultural Safety Assessment Reports to be undertaken by a Member of the Society of Irish Foresters (MSIF) Certified Arborist,” the response to Councillor O’Callaghan’s motion explained.

“These reports are required to establish the tree condition and to determine if there was a potential risk to the public. The selection of the trees was based on inspections and on concerns raised by community groups and by the public and are located in public spaces for which the Local Authority has responsibility for.

“The assessments have been received and based on the assessments, it is expected that removal of dangerous trees will be undertaken early in 2023. Killaloe MD intends to continue this selective process going forward.”

Mr Troy’s reply also detailed the legislative framework within which the local authority must operate, in relation to the management of trees, and the legal obligations of other stakeholders.

It noted “the requirements of Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993 – the owner or occupier of land shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation on the land is not a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road and that it does not obstruct or interfere with the safe use of a public road or the maintenance of a public roadapply to all landowners, including the Local Authority.”

Legislation on forestry was also referred to. “The Forestry Act 2014 contains the main provisions for the felling of trees,” Mr Troy’s response stated.

“Under this act it is an offence for any person to uproot or cut down any tree unless the owner has obtained permission in the form of a felling licence from the Forest Service. There are some of the exceptions where a felling licence is not required, including a tree certified by the local authority as dangerous to road traffic on account of age or condition or being felled under Section 70 of the Roads Act 1993. (www.crann.ie).”

The Senior Engineer’s reply to the motion also noted the seasonal limits on disturbing trees, unless for road safety reasons.

“Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976 (as amended), states that It shall be an offence for a person to cut, grub, burn or otherwise destroy, during the period beginning on the 1st day of March and ending on the 31st day of August in any year, any vegetation growing on any land not then cultivated’, the response outlined.

“This shall not apply in relation to the felling, cutting, lopping, trimming or removal of a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation pursuant to section 70 of the Roads Act 1993. (www.irishstatutebook.ie). Clare County Council and Killaloe MD are mindful of these Acts and obligations in the undertaking of works to and care of trees.”

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