*Hedge cutting. 

A “BALANCING ACT” needs to be found in protecting biodiversity while managing hedge and grass cutting in West Clare.

Additional grant aid for hedge cutting on cycleways, bus routes and junctions “which have been compromised with overgrown grass,” was sought by Cllr Gabriel Keating (FG).

Speaking at Monday’s AGM of the West Clare Municipal District, he observed, “There seems to be an issue with funding. It is something we need to look at, there’s accidents every day, a lot of people are using our roads, we don’t have an officer for Active Travel or road safety in the county but we’re unique in a way because they have them in most counties”.

Grass cutting is a thorny subject, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) flagged. “I know the point you are making, equally I’ve had twice as many emails telling us we’re cutting too much grass. It is a very hard balance, as the season moves on there is more money to cut them”. He admitted he was “swamped with emails” on the subject, an outcome that former councillor Cillian Murphy (FF) had given him prior warning on.

Supporting the call from Cllr Keating was Cllr Michael Shannon (FF) who said he was contacted by a lady living along the Wild Atlantic Way who has noticed a deterioration in the quality of the road where she lives, the condition of which didn’t assist when she wrote off her car two years ago. “There is a balance but safety has to come first. Since COVID, things have changed, the local roads are getting used a lot more. Hedge cutting and the safety of people, the bad bends and junctions should be addressed”.

Senior executive engineer in the West Clare MD, Alan Kennelly acknowledged, “it is a balancing act, we have a lot of people asking us to cut hedges and roads but by the same token the wildlife and cutting of hedges is between March and September, when we do go out and cut them we’ve emails saying we are environmental bandits, there is a balance to be struck and Clare County Council does have a policy on hedge cutting. It is fairly well set out, the responsibility for cutting of roadside boundary lies with the landowner”.

Kennelly added, “it would take an awful lot of money to cut 2,000 km worth of roadside and I don’t know if we will ever have the resources or the money to cut 2,000 km worth of roadside hedges”.

According to Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG), “there isn’t a safe junction to come out of in North Clare at the moment with the overgrowth that is going on, we should be proactive about it, it should go out to the public that they need to call in roads that need to be tackled. We should be proactive, go out there and cut the junctions immediately, they don’t have to be hedges, a lot of it is the grass”.

Ongoing work on the North Clare traffic safety management plan was welcomed by Cllr Joe Killeen (FF). He referenced the 1.3m visitor numbers at the Cliffs of Moher as “very high” and praised the appointment of tourism ambassadors to try redirect traffic, “the success of our tourism does have a knock-on effect, we have to be very conscious of it, it is an important issue for North Clare and West Clare”. He suggested West Clare representatives be put on the traffic management group “so we can mirror what is happening”.

Road markings on national roads and overgrown hedges blocking signs were also brought under the spotlight by Cllr Keating. “On the national roads they seem to be cutting away and there is no restrictions,” the Cross native remarked. On the subject of communication, Cllr Lynch suggested some consultation be conducted regarding the Have Your Say online platform.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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