Overgrown vegetation puts people at risk

Cut It Back poster SUS-150105-083723001
Cut It Back poster SUS-150105-083723001

Landowners who allow trees and vegetation to overhang roads and footpaths could be receiving a bill from East Sussex County.

The authority says overgrown trees and hedges can force people – particularly wheelchair users and parents with push chairs – into the road, putting their safety at risk.

Vegetation which overhangs roads can cause a danger to motorists, especially to drivers of high-sided vehicles such as lorries or buses.

Now the county council has launched a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of overhanging vegetation and the message to landowners is ‘Cut It Back’.

The Cut It Back campaign, being promoted through posters and social media, aims to raise awareness of the fact that maintenance of trees and hedges growing on private land is the responsibility of the property or landowner.

People are advised to ensure the footway is clear of vegetation to a height of 8ft (2.5m) and the road is clear to a height of 17ft (5.1m) and 1.8ft (0.5m) from the edge of the road towards their property.

If made aware of any problems caused by overhanging vegetation, the council’s highways team will write to the landowner asking them to cut it back.

If no action is taken, the council may get its own staff to cut back the tree or hedge and bill the landowner.

Roger Williams, East Sussex County Council head of highways, said: “Overhanging trees and hedges which are not properly maintained can cause a real danger to pedestrians and motorists.

“People who have property bordering the road or footway may not realise it’s their responsibility to ensure vegetation is not causing a danger or obstruction, or blocking off light from a street lamp.

“We would strongly encourage people to maintain their trees and hedges responsibly and to inspect them regularly during the growing season.”

Rye resident Christine Ward has said that overgrown vegetation at Rye Hill often blocks the footpath forcing her to walk out into the road.

A Whatlington resident, speaking at a recent road death inquest, said: “Overgrown hedges on the A21 are dangerous as they often block the view of motorists when they are travelling around bends.”

He called for action to be taken to reduce the risk

More information about the cutting of hedges and trees is available online at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/hedges