A PUBLICITY awareness campaign is to be undertaken by Cork County Council this coming September to advise landowners about their obligations to cut overgrown hedges on roads throughout the county.
This forms part of a countywide hedge cutting policy to tackle the ongoing problem, which was formulated by the Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC).
They have now considered and proposed a number of positive measures to tackle the problem and the policy, along with recommendations, was presented at a recent Council meeting.
‘One of the measures proposed is to launch a publicity awareness campaign to advise landowners and others in relation to their responsibilities for hedge cutting under the Roads Act 1993,’ said Cllr Declan Hurley, chairperson of the Roads and Transport SPC.
‘The hedge cutting season is restricted by the Wildlife Acts to the period from September 1st to February 28th, so any programme adopted would not realistically come into place until Autumn 2015, at the earliest.’
At a meeting of the SPC in June it agreed and approved to undertake a publicity awareness campaign by, placing public adverts in local newspapers every year in early September, placing radio ads on local radio during the farming programmes again in September and putting information on the Council’s website.
Cllr Hurley also said that since the meeting in June, the Road Safety Authority has come on board to assist in raising awareness of the issue again in September, among both the general public, landowners and local authorities, via a national and local press release and social media activity.
‘There is no question of the Council reverting to carrying out hedge cutting programmes as it is legally the landowners’ responsibility.
‘However, this policy is not to be seen as a crusade on farmers and landowners. But by introducing the scheme it is hoped to foster community spirit and provide the mechanism for a positive approach to dealing with the issue by landowners,’ Cllr Hurley added.
Cllr Hurley also said that they are also proposing to pilot a Community hedge cutting grant scheme in one area, possibly in West Cork, similar to one that is currently being operated by Clare County Council. The scheme, which has been in operation in Clare since 2013, encourages a joint approach with communities and groups of local residents and landowners for the cutting of hedges and trees which need attention.
The grant will contribute €25 per km, which equates to about 40% of the cost and will only apply to Community Groups or organisations for a number of roads, not to individuals.’
Communities that wish to apply will need to ensure that the contractor to be engaged is appropriately insures and is compliant with present day Health and Safety regulations.