A WEST Cork bus driver spent more than €10,000 over the past two years repairing damage to his vehicle caused by low hanging trees and branches on country roads.
That’s according to Bantry-based Cllr Danny Collins (Ind) who called on the local authority to carry out a survey on roadside trees that should be cut down or pruned back where necessary.
And Cork County Council says it will pursue ‘assiduously’ any landowner who does not comply with a request to cut back trees or hedges on their land.
Raising the motion at a Western Committee meeting, Cllr Collins said that there came a time when trees needed to be removed, especially since many were loosened after Storm Ophelia last October.
However, he was told the matter was an issue for landowners and not the local authority.
‘In my view, trees should not be more than 2m in height along a roadside, and there are plenty of examples in areas such as Manch and between Ballylickey to Pearson’s Bridge where trees and large branches were falling onto our main roads during and since Ophelia,’ said Cllr Collins.
Cllr Collins also highlighted the problem faced by truck operators and bus companies when it comes to dangerous branches: “One bus owner from West Cork told me that in 2016 it cost him over €5,500 in damage to mirrors, and that last year he paid out €4,800 due to trees and branches hanging out on our roads. These companies pay major road tax and should not have to tolerate this. In some cases, trucks clip over hanging tress bringing them down on the road.’
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said that the County Council should be knocking on the doors of landowners to ensure compliance.
Some of them ‘couldn’t be bothered’ cutting trees or hedges, he claimed.
Both Cllrs Chris O’Sullivan and Paul Hayes supported the motion, but had reservations about the wholesale removal of trees. Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) urged caution and said that both the Council and landowners themselves needed to up their game in managing trees and hedges.
In response to Cllr Collins’s motion, a Council spokesperson said that following Storm Ophelia, they repeated their advertisements in the press reminding landowners and occupiers of their obligations.
The also specifically requested them to inspect the trees on their properties and to ensure they were not a hazard. These issues were also highlighted in letters sent directly to Coillte, the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association, and the Irish Farmers Association, he said.
‘The local authority has powers to serve notice on landowners where a tree, shrub, hedge or other vegetation is a hazard or potential hazard to persons using a public road, or where it obstructs or interferes with the safe use of a public road,’ said a Council spokesperson.
‘The Council is not in a position, due to resource constraints, to patrol all roadside trees and hedges and issues notices on a systematic basis. Nevertheless, notices are regularly issued and in particular when a specific problem is brought to the attention of staff. It is an objective going forward, to follow up assiduously in any cases of non-compliance with such notices.’