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*”A major culture change is needed,” Cllr Pat Burke (FG) believed. Photograph: Ruth Griffin

AN APPROXIMATE BUDGET of €53,000 has been allocated to the Killaloe Municipal District for hedge cutting this year.

Frequently raised by East Clare councillors, hedge cutting always proves to be a thorny subject with compromises between passing motorists essential on roads due to overgrowth in certain patches.

Not one but two councillors tabled motions on the matter recently with Cllr Joe Cooney (FF) seeking an update on works done while Cllr Alan O’Callaghan (FF) wanted junctions and roads targeted “immediately”.

Discretionary funding to the tune of €53,000 has been allocated to the Killaloe MD to undertake hedge cutting in 2022.

Acting senior executive engineer, Derek Troy detailed that from June to August hedge cutting was completed at junctions and bends “on a prioritised basis” with a particular focus on road user safety.

Hedge cutting formed part of the roadworks undertaken on both regional and local roads totalling 71km as part of the Improvement and Maintenance Grants this year. An approximate 6km of hedge cutting in addition was done for both Community Improvement and Local Improvement Schemes.

Three hedge cutting contractors have been engaged by the Killaloe MD since the end of the bird nesting season on September 1st “to undertake the more extensive hedge cutting programme,” Troy advised.

All regional roads in full are intended to be cut within the Killaloe MD working out at 213km, a small number of high traffic volume local roads will also be dealt with. “Each hedge-cutter cuts approximately 5km per day, therefore it will take a number of weeks from now to complete the programme,” he added. Landowners will also be reminded of their responsibilities with letters to be issued by Clare County Council “where trees or vegetation have clearly been identified as being a danger to road users”.

In the eyes of Cllr O’Callaghan “a vast improvement” was evident in 2021 with the work done by the Council and landowners in assuming responsibility for hedge cutting. “This year it looks to be a bit slow on the ground, a lot of regional roads haven’t been done, maybe they are under pressure to get out and get them done,” he observed. The Cathaoirleach of the Killaloe MD questioned, “Are contractors fulfilling ther duties to look after these hedges, a push needs to be done, some regional roads are way behind, we’ve been lucky enough that the weather has stunted growth which is no harm, it’s behind I feel a good bit, it needs to be pushed on”.

Differing views were voiced by Cllr Cooney. “A good bit of work done on regional roads and no point saying there hasn’t”. He felt that homeowners paying local property tax were entitled to the hedges to be cut on their roads. “It is time to get landowners to carry out their responsibility, I had a motion passed a number of years ago that all hedges on road sides be cut at least once a year. I don’t know is it a waste of time writing to some landowners, maybe they just throw it in the bin”.

Landowners in certain parts of Mountshannon, Scariff and Whitegate are fulfilling their duty, Cllr Pat Burke (FG) informed the meeting. “Where one landowner will trim and manicure their hedges, the neighbouring landowner I don’t know what they do be thinking with their hedges hanging out on the road, it beggars belief. We need a major culture change among landowners to roll up their sleeves to get the work done on minor and local roads. If landowners cut the hedges and left the local authority to look after the roads we’d have a great county”.

“Most of farmers and landowners are cutting their hedges but it’s the land that it is in no man’s land,” which is not getting the necessary attention, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) believed. He queried if two different types of letter were issued, one giving two to three weeks for action and another reminding landowners of their duty to cut hedges.

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