Clare County Council, supported by local farmers organisations, has launched an innovative scheme to facilitate landowners in cutting their hedges.
The Community Hedge Cutting Grant Scheme, the first of its kind to be developed in Ireland, is the result of a consultation process involving local farmers and the local authority.
The €20,000 initiative 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 Joe Arkins, Mayor of Clare: “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.”
“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,” added the mayor.
There is support for the scheme by the ICMSA, IFA and ICSFA.
Clare IFA chairman Andrew Dundas said: “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 like hedge cutting.”
Tom Tiernan, Senior Engineer, Clare County Council explained: “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 affected 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 has come into effect already.
Application forms are available online from www.clarecoco.ie, from council area offices and at Áras Contae an Chl•ir in Ennis.
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