Hedge-cutting woes: What county sees the most complaints?

Co. Meath has one of the highest levels of complaints in the country with regards to hedge-cutting or the lack thereof, according to information obtained by AgriLand.

It appears, also, that the issue is countrywide, with 125 complaints made by members of the public to their respective local authorities in 2018 relating to the lack of hedge-cutting in their areas – and the subsequent increase in hedgerow growth on land and public roads.

In a statement to AgriLand, Meath Co.Council reported having received 114 complaints last year, while the local authority in Co. Mayo claimed just one complaint connected to hedge-cutting.

Longford Co.Council, meanwhile, admitted that it issued 20 letters to landowner/occupiers in respect of road safety issues brought about by overgrown hedgerows on land in 2018.

Down in the south-east of the country, Wexford Co. Council said that while it did not have an exact figure in respect of hedge-cutting, complaints were received regularly.

However, the issues were usually resolved by means of an informal discussion with the landowner – or in more pronounced cases, by the issuing of a formal notice under the Roads Act 1993.

Meanwhile, local authorities in Donegal, Tipperary, Louth, Roscommon, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath reported having had no complaints lodged with them about hedge-cutting matters in 2018.

Legislation

In accordance with the Roads Act 1993, landowners and occupiers of land are required to take all reasonable steps to ensure that trees, hedges or other vegetation on their land is not a hazard, or potential hazard, to those using a public road.

The Road Act 1993 also states that: “Landowners and occupiers must also ensure that the vegetation does not obstruct or interfere with the safe use of a public road, or with the maintenance of a public road.”

The Wildlife Act 1976 states that dead and unsafe trees should be removed and hedges should be cut and trimmed.

“Hedge/tree cutting should only be carried out during the period from September 1 to March 1 as it is an offence, under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act 1976, to cut or destroy any vegetation growing in land not then cultivated, or vegetation growing in any hedge or ditch during the period March 1 to August 31,” the act outlines.

Meanwhile, in accordance with provisions under Section 46 of the Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000, and in recognition of the value of habitats – such as hedgerows for nesting birds – the cutting of trees and hedgerows is not permitted from March 1 to August 31, except for reasons of public health and safety.