Keeping Our Road Network Safe and Secure in Cornwall
Keeping Our Road Network Safe and Secure in Cornwall; Who is Responsible for What Maintenance?
This post includes information regarding roadside hedges and trees, a topic I get a lot of correspondence on. The trouble is, I get a sea of emails when any hedge or tree is cut but an equal volume complain when they get overgrown and straggly! On one side people see the benefits to wildlife and do not want to see our smallest insect or much loved birds disturbed in any way but other folk quote the hazard of the rural lanes becoming narrower, pavements having brambles poking out or just that they don’t like ‘untidy’!
The other issue that, whatever side of the argument folk are on, they assume it it the Council’s responsibility so blame them for what they do not like!
Below is some useful information and links from Highways, and chances to have your say.
Hedge and tree maintenance
You’ll be aware that unmanaged hedges have big implications for our local communities. They can cause safety issues by limiting access for road users, including vital emergency services, gritting, and refuse vehicles.
As well as identifying locations through regular inspections and reports, we often enlist help from town and parish councils to identify locations where vegetation is obstructing the highway. We also ask for local co-operation from landowners or occupiers to deal with any overhanging vegetation, hedges, and trees. Where we need to give advice on the course of action, we sometimes find a landowner isn’t registered, so your local knowledge and insight is invaluable to us.
We would like to ask for your support by reminding landowners to make sure any trees or hedges are trimmed back prior to 1st March. Working in partnership with landowners, and particularly the farming community, is vital in ensuring a safe and accessible highway network while safeguarding important habitats.
Where a landowner or occupier’s co-operation is not gained, Cornwall Council will issue a formal notice for the work to be carried out. If the notice is ignored and action is not taken, the council will request that we carry out any work and seek to recover the cost. However, we would much rather we didn’t have to resort to such measures.
The attached fact sheet helps to explain the role we play, and signposts to all the information you need to know about maintaining hedges and trees alongside Cornwall’s roads.
Over the past year we have seen an increase in the number of enquiries relating to Ash dieback. Previously known as Chalara, this is a disease of ash trees caused by a fungus called hymenoscyphus fraxineus, and was first confirmed in Britain in 2012.
In response, we are adapting our operational activity and working closely with our colleagues in Cornwall Council. We have been increasing our monitoring and survey work, and this will continue through the year so that we can better understand the scale of the issues and the progress of the disease.
Inspections are carried out by our professionally trained arboriculture officers in line with national guidance and industry best practice. We have also trained many of our staff, known as ‘competent officers’, to increase knowledge and skills around the identification of tree defects. This is further complemented by our reactive service, which responds to any concerns raised through the reporting system.
By acting now, we can help to build resilience in our local landscapes. We can help to identify and manage any possible risks connected to our roads, and the environmental assets we maintain.
For more information, advice, and support about Ash dieback we would encourage you to visit Cornwall Council’s website. Details can be found here.
Thank you to all of you who have already responded to our online verge survey following the changes to our maintenance regimes last year. If you have not yet participated, we would be grateful if you could take a few minutes to complete it.
The survey will close on 28 February and can be found on Let’s Talk Cornwall. We very much look forward to hearing your views.
Our winter service activity was particularly busy over the festive period and into the new year. If you need bins replenished, please let us know. Although we filled them at the start of the season any subsequent refills are funded by the town and parishes.
Where it can be achieved, and to improve efficiency, it is better if you place an order for all of the bins that need refilling in your area at the same time. You can get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
For those of you who may not be aware, Cornwall Council uses a system called One.network. This is the largest single source of local road works information in the UK.
The One.network application pulls information directly from the streetworks register, where all statutory undertakers are obliged to notify Cornwall Council of all the works they are undertaking affecting our roads. Our own maintenance works are also readily available to view along with works on the highway by private individuals and contractors.
The system allows users to set up an email alert for a particular area of interest, in order to do this you can do the following:
· Go to One.network
· Create an account
· Click on your icon on the right hand side then ‘alerts’ from the drop down menu
· Complete the email alert selection detailing what information you require
· Click on Set Alert
Getting in touch
Despite the current restrictions, we are experiencing a significant increase in the number of defects being reported; in fact, the highest we have ever seen. In just 11 days over the Christmas and new year period our teams responded and dealt with 648 defects on Cornwall’s highway network. This included 151 flooding incidents and 141 sites cleared of fallen or unsafe trees.
We’re grateful that you are letting us know where problems exist. However, while we are dealing with all the reports, managing the safety of the network is our priority. This may mean it takes us a little longer than usual to get back to you, so please bear with us as we navigate our way through all the reports and enquiries at this time.
Finally, it has been a difficult year in so many ways. We have all been affected by the Covid pandemic, at work and in our personal lives. I’d like to take this opportunity to send my thoughts and best wishes on behalf of everyone in the highway and environment team, and thank you for your ongoing co-operation and support.