‘Way Forward’ Agreed For Tackling Overgrown Hedges

Photo courtesy of Glynne Lucas.

Photo courtesy of Glynne Lucas.

There’s going to be a drive to tackle overgrown hedges in Scilly. 

It follows a meeting held last week between farmers, the Duchy, the Council, AONB and Police,

The discussion aimed to find a compromise between road users and farmers, and to identify potential solutions to prevent future problems.

Bus tour operator Glynne Lucas took part. His 15 years of campaigning for a programme of maintenance came to a head last year when he saw a young girl dragged her from her bicycle, when she was entangled in brambles.

Glynn has claimed that the road width can be reduced up to 4 or 5 feet by unkempt hedges and trees. And he’s felt so strongly that he’s paid for trimming work himself.

Dense growth on many hedges and lack of maintenance has also meant that ivy growth has separated the stones in the walls and caused some collapses.

Attendees heard that the Council is responsible for maintaining verges but not hedges.

But the Town Hall can serve notice to the owner or tenant of the land if a hedge or tree needs to be trimmed.

If it’s not done by the specified time they can call in a contractor and pass on the bill, which could include travel and accommodation costs if they use a mainland firm.

The Wildlife Trust didn’t attend, but they feel that work should be contracted out and the cost shared by responsible tenants. But Duchy Land Steward Chris Gregory pointed out that responsible farmers who maintain their hedges may not want to pay for work they can do themselves.

The meeting agreed that the Farmers’ and Growers’ Initiative would be the best forum for communicating responsibilities to land users and agreeing a plan.

Chris Gregory will also talk to farmers about the risk of planting trees close to the road and professional drivers will also be encouraged to report obstructions to the Council.

Sergeant Colin Taylor suggested that the definition of obstruction could be clarified and the Council will obtain advice on best practice from Cornwall Council.

There was debate over when to cut hedges. Farmers are busy with bulbs and hay at the  “ideal” time at the end of August and early June and it is unsafe with visitors walking on the roads.

The AONB’s Rebecca Steggles highlighted the importance of an early trim so that during the nesting season there would be less likelihood of birds being disturbed. This was strongly backed by Colin Taylor and who felt it would minimise public distress.

Some locals feel that the Council is not honouring their commitment to maintain verges with obstructive and unsightly growth on some walkways and pavements.

The meeting resolved that the Direct Labour Force will make that work a priority, in order to set an example.

Glynne Lucas says that finally, with the help of a new generation of councillors, there is a way forward, working for the betterment of the island.