‘Inspect and Protect’ advice to landowners

Island Roads is reminding landowners of their responsibilities to manage trees that may affect the public highway network.

The advice is being issued as we emerge from an exceptionally wet winter and early spring during which several trees or heavy branches fell onto roads and footways.

While it is the responsibility of Island Roads to remove these trees and indeed to ensure the appropriate management of those that are on the network, a great many trees bordering the highways are in private ownership. In these cases, there is a duty of care on the landowner to ensure that the tree does not present a danger to road users.

Island Roads has produced a leaflet – Protect and Inspect – setting out what landowners should do to ensure, as far as possible, trees on their land do not pose a risk. Once again Island Roads is also asking the NFU and the Country Landowners Association (CLA) to remind their members.

Island Roads has powers to recharge landowners for work to clear away trees that have fallen onto roads from private land. It also issues notices to landowners requiring them to take the relevant action to prevent trees and vegetation becoming a safety issue.

Kevin Burton, Island Roads’ network manager said: “Our preferred option is always to work with landowners who, in the vast majority of cases, do what is required of them to ensure the highway network is kept as safe as possible.

“The high winds, snow and ground-soaking wet weather earlier in the year create conditions where trees are more likely to be blown over onto the highway. Not only do such incidents cause disruption to travel by blocking roads, falling trees are obviously a safety risk as well.

“There are steps landowners can – and should – take to reduce the likelihood of trees falling and we are asking the CLA and the NFU to help us ensure their members are aware of what their members need to do.

“We are not suggesting either CLA or the NFU members are responsible for any incidents reported this year but these organisations have previously been extremely helpful in assisting us in getting message out to their membership.”

Advice on the responsibilities of landowners in respect of trees near the highways is available via the home page of www.islandroads.com and copies of the leaflet can be obtained from Island Roads’ HQ at Daish Way, Newport.