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Government urges public to trim trees

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Wayne Scott, Acting Minister of Public Works (Photo by Akil Simmons)

The Ministry of Public Works is urging members of the public to trim overhanging trees and branches as the Island approaches the peak of hurricane season.

Meanwhile crews from the Highways section are set to tackle several problem areas over the next month.

Acting Minister of Public Works Wayne Scott said: “Overhanging trees and hedges can cause safety hazards to road users including obstructed visibility, injury to pedestrians, pedal-cyclists and bike riders and damage to bus and truck windscreens and injury to waste collection personnel.

“There is only so much we can do with the resources we have. We really need the public to play their part. Tribe roads do tend to generate a disproportionate demand on resources as, being narrow, they can soon become completely blocked if not treated.”

According to a ministry spokeswoman, the Western team will be working on Spice Hill Road, Tribe Road #5 Warwick and Tribe Road #3 Southampton. Orange Valley Road, Jubilee Road and Tribe Road #1 will be targeted by a central parish team, while Vesey Street, Middle Road near Ornamental Ironworks and the Barry Road/ Government Hill area of St George’s will be cleared by the eastern parish team.

Harbour Road meanwhile will be worked on by both the western and central teams, with the eastern team potentially assisting.

The spokeswoman said: “Clearing roadside vegetation next to roads helps to limit damage and debris during hurricanes and makes the road network more resilient to severe weather events.

“The Highways section’s road sweeping teams make every effort to clear vegetation on roads and overhanging foliage around the Island, particularly after storms and heavy rain, and try to be responsive to any problems that are reported, however overhanging vegetation is normally the responsibility of the adjoining landowner.”

The spokeswoman noted that according to the law, vegetation must be kept clear of a public road for a height not less than 4.9m (16ft 1in) above the surface of the carriageway or 3m (9ft 10in) above the surface of a pedestrian walkway or verge.

“Where the problems are reported, property owners will be asked to trim back their vegetation,” the spokeswoman added.

“The public should be aware that if such informal requests are not actioned, the ministry has the power to serve a ‘statutory nuisance abatement notice’ on the landowner. Failure to comply with the notice would leave the landowner open to risk of a range of penalties including prosecution.

“The ministry is requesting public full co-operation in promoting safer roads and a better environment, allowing our own teams to focus on our road cleaning and maintenance responsibilities.”

Vegetation on Harbour Road (Photograph by Akil Simmons)