It would cost Mayo County Council in the region of €1 million a year to cut every hedge on roadsides in the county.
That was according to Mayo County Engineer Joe Beirne who outlined the cost to the elected members of Mayo County Council at their monthly meeting this week.
The issue of hedge cutting, which is a regular item at area council meetings throughout the county, was put on the agenda of the December monthly meeting at the behest of the councillors. Mr Berine told the meeting that there are 5,300 km of road networks in Mayo and that the assumption would be that 50 per cent of this network would have hedges that require cutting. It costs €400 per km to cut, so the 2,650km of roadways would cost the council €1,060,000 a year to complete.
Mr Beirne outlined to the councillors that the roadworks budget for the council had a provision in place for €150,000 to be spend on hedge cutting and this was administered through the area offices, and that the councillors themselves could allocate some of the notice of allocations they are allowed spent to the project if they wished.
The €400 per km cost to the council was an issue that sparked consternation with a number of councillors at the meeting. Cllr Jimmy Maloney told the meeting that “I myself witnessed a hedge cutting operation in both Sligo and Donegal where they used two hedge cutters at the same time, on the same stretch of road so twice the amount of work could be done and this would save greatly on the man power costs which make up a large part of the €400 per km cost.” County Manager Des Mahon said that Cllr Maloney’s proposal had a lot of merit and is something that should be looked at by the council.
The issue that no hedge cutting can take place between the months of March and August because of the Wildlife Act also sparked anger in some of the members. Cllr Al McDonnell said “This is a crazy situation, I don’t know how the department think that birds nest in hedgerows along busy roadways instead of secluded areas which as anybody will tell you is the norm, this ban on hedge cutting during this period makes it very difficult for the council to keep on top of the issue.” Mr Beirne told Cllr McDonnell, “unfortunately this is the law of the land and we have to stick to it. There hace been occasions in the past when different local authorities have been prosecuted for cutting hedges during the summer months.”