Community scheme key to trimming a constant problem



Mayo County Council will be rolling out its community hedge cutting fund again this year after a successful debut last year.

The head of roads for the council, Paul Dolan, told the local authority's Roads and Transportation Strategic Policy Committee (SPC ) on Monday that the uptake of the fund was very good last year, particularly in two areas of the county.

"It's a very good scheme," he said. "We had great uptake in two municipal districts last year and we hope to see the other two areas increase the uptake this time around. The two areas that were oversubscribed last year were Castlebar and Ballina, and you would hope it would show the other areas how good this scheme can be.

"We have €5,000 for each municipal district under this scheme and we get three times the number of kilometres cut for the same amount of money, using the traditional method.

Fine Gael councillor Cyril Burke pointed to Partry as a great example to other areas of what could be done under this scheme: "I think this scheme is a brilliant idea. If you look at a community like Partry, I think they drew down €900 from the scheme and they collected some money locally and they got a huge number of kilometres cut."

Mr Dolan also updated the SPC on the first meeting of the newly established hedge cutting forum, which is being facilitated by the council. The forum held its first meeting in January and will meet again next month.

However, he pointed out that money was key to the forum's success in sorting out problems, and said: "Unless people bring money to the table the hedge cutting forum isn't going to be any use to be honest"

He said he hoped the forum would be successful in this area and that applications had been made to the relevant Government department to enquire if extra funding or a grant aid scheme could be put in place.

Mr Doran added that the council expects to have representatives from the Department of Agriculture and the National Parks and Wildlife Service at the next meeting, which could be key to securing a funding scheme.


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