Innovative hedge-cutting scheme launched in Clare

Clare County Council, supported by local farmers organisations, has this afternoon launched an innovative scheme to facilitate landowners in cutting their hedges.

The Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme, the first of its type to be developed in Ireland, is the result of a consultation process involving local farmers and the local authority.

The €20,000  initiative, which is being made available to communities, is intended to deal with local road networks during the winter/spring season. The council says it will complement ongoing maintenance of roadside boundaries by landowners throughout Clare by providing grants of €25 per kilometre of hedgerow.

According to Mayor of Clare Joe Arkins: “The Roads Act, 1993 stipulates that all growth emanating from any part of the roadside boundary structure or from within the land protected by same is the responsibility of the landowner. From a road safety point of view, it is important that this responsibility is acknowledged and embraced by roadside landowners and the Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme is intended to provide support in this context.

“This innovative scheme follows a series of proactive discussions between the various stakeholders over the past few weeks. The scheme will afford communities and groups an opportunity to apply to Clare County Council for this grant to offset some of the costs associated with hedge cutting,” he added.

Joe Cooney, chairperson of Clare County Council’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, stated: “The problem with overhanging hedges and trees is a huge road safety concern to all road users. I welcome this initiative and hopefully there will be a large uptake that will significantly reduce the problem. I particularly welcome the support shown for this scheme by the ICMSA, IFA and ICSFA.”

Andrew Dundas, chairperson of the Irish Farmers Association, commented: “This is a welcome development and the IFA would support any initiative that provides assistance to landowners and farmers in carrying out very essential works such as hedge cutting.”

Tom Tiernan, senior engineer at Clare County Council, explained that by establishing the scheme, the council is hopeful it will “foster community spirit and will provide the mechanism for a positive approach to dealing with the issue by landowners”.

He continued: “This scheme will provide some financial assistance to communities and groups that undertake hedge cutting and comply with their responsibilities under Section 70 of the Roads Act, 1993. We are confident that the pilot scheme will be of benefit in dealing effectively with this issue and hopefully by the start of the nesting season in March, 2014, up to 400 km of the worst effected local roads in the county will be significantly enhanced in their capacity to accommodate the traffic that uses them.”

The Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme comes into effect immediately. Application forms are available online via www.clarecoco.ie.

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