Verge maintenance

Please read our information on how we are supporting residents and businesses, as well as information on affected services.


What we are responsible for

Hedges, trees and plants that protrude into the highway are our responsibility.  We are not responsible for boundary hedges.

Verges are an important feature of our roads. They reduce noise, provide screening and vital habitat, as well as improve air quality.

We maintain roadside verges within the “rural environment” as defined in our highway maintenance manual. Roadside verges in urban environments are maintained by the Environment Service. New verges are developed by the Council’s Making Space for Nature team. Making Space for Nature design verges that increase biodiversity in our towns.

We inspect and maintain roads throughout the county.  We also carry out specialist surveys of trees within falling distance of the road. Where dangerous trees or obstructions have been identified we will take action. We either deal with issues on our highway land or notify private landowners of our concerns.

What we cut

We focus on road safety but also look to promote biodiversity wherever possible.

We cut

  • around junctions to maintain visibility
  • approaches to highway junctions
  • pedestrian and school crossings
  • approaches to highway signs and around safety fencing
  • around seats, milestones and other roadside features including bridge parapets

When we cut

Early summer

This is a safety cut between May and July to improve visibility at junctions and signs. It also treats verges with high pedestrian usage. We focus on key areas needed for visibility and safety only.

Autumn

This is a serviceability cut to maintain or improve the verge. This cut treats a longer length of the highway. It usually includes a one metre ‘swathe’ cut to help reduce verge encroachment. It also ensures access to highway infrastructure such as oil interceptors.

Cormac have fact sheets which describe the cutting processes in more detail.

To minimise risk we treat the busiest roads first. Further information can be found in our highway maintenance manual.

Report issues with hedges and verges

If you wish to report an issue with overgrown hedges or overgrown or fallen trees causing a concern on the highway, please use the link below.

Report an issue with a tree, hedge or verge

Please note we only cut vegetation to ensure highway safety and enable other highway works.

If your concern purely related to how the verge looks, please contact us via general enquiries.

If the issue is a threat to public safety, then please telephone 0300 1234 222 (24 hour service) giving details of the location.

Landowner responsibility

Not all roadside verge maintenance is carried out by us. Most hedge cutting along the highway is by the adjacent landowner, often farmers. Landowners may cut the verge as well as their hedges. Individuals also cut verges in the vicinity of their properties for aesthetic purposes.

Hedge growth or trees on properties next to the highway is generally the responsibility of the landowner. We recommend that regular maintenance of hedgerows is undertaken. Regular maintenance prevents side growth and low-lying branches extending into the road. Landowners must take reasonable care to ensure that trees within falling distance of the highway are safe. This responsibility includes trees rooted in Cornish hedges that form the boundary to the highway.

Work to maintain hedgerows from the road, must be done by an accredited contractor. Contractors must have the required licenses to work on the highway. They must also be familiar with relevant legislation. They should be aware of landscape designations such as Tree Preservation Orders

We have the power to ensure landowners resolve problematic vegetation and tree issues.  The Council notify landowners under Section 154 of the Highway Act 1980.

To keep all highway users safe and avoid legal action we ask that you or your contractor:

  • reduce side growth back to the edge/boundary of the maintained highway
  • ensure at least 2.1m clearance above the surface of footways
  • ensure at least 5m clearance above the surface of cycleways
  • ensure at least 5.2m clearance above the surface of the highway. This allows high sides vehicles to pass safely
  • make sure that branches and vegetation are not in contact with or obstructing highway signs
  • remove branches that are in contact with or blocking streetlights
  • remove or reduce vegetation that is obscuring visibility at junctions, on bends or passing places

Landowners must also comply with legislation relating to the control of noxious and injurious plants. For example, Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Ragwort.

If you/your contractor need to carry out emergency works from the road, please call Cornwall Council on 0300 1234 222.

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