Thursday, June 24, 2021

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By Carmel Hayes

DANGEROUS decaying trees on a Laois road would look good in a horror movie, according to a local councillor.

Concerns were raised at a council meeting this morning over the condition of dying trees at Johnstown Glebe in Rathdowney, which one councillor claimed could cause a serious or even fatal accident.

Cllr John King highlighted the potential risks, as he asked the council to contact the owner of the land, located near Bealady Cemetery, asking for the trees to be trimmed and removed.

The trees may cause serious danger and maybe loss of life to people walking this road and visiting the cemetery. It is the preferred walking route in Rathdowney and people are more important than trees,” cllr King told a meeting of Borris-in-Ossory/Mountmellick Municipal District.

A former firefighter, cllr King claimed that the trees had cost Laois County Council a fortune over the past five years, as the fire service had to remove fallen branches blocking the road and each attendance took up to two or three hours. He recalled a serious accident at the location some years ago, when a tree fell on a car.

Cllr King asked what powers the council had to enforce trimming and knocking of dangerous trees on private land. He felt a survey would be necessary and the council may have to seek powers to remove the trees.

He was supported by cllr James Kelly, who said: “Some of those trees would look really good in a horror movie, they are so decayed. They shouldn’t be there at all. A lot of people walk that road and those trees need to be removed.”

Cllr Kelly asked what the council could do to force the issue, as he said: “If we can CPO a house, surely we can do something about trees that are very dangerous.”

Cllr Ollie Clooney from Durrow said there are similar problems in his area. He told the meeting: “We have big beech trees and if there is a storm, one or two will always fall. It’s a miracle that they haven’t caused a fatality. What is the price of a life? If the trees are dangerous, we should cut through the red tape. If the owner does not want to remove them, then the council should.”

Director of services Donal Brennan said any issue involving overhanging trees on private land had to be approached very carefully, as the property owner had rights. While the council could issue notices, the situation on the public road would have to be judged on site first, “strictly on an engineering basis”. He added that there are legal provisions for dealing with trees that overhang public roads.

Area engineer Edmund Kenny said he would meet cllr King on site at Johnstown Glebe to assess the impact of the trees on the public road, before deciding on what action would be required.

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