Before the good spring weather begins is an ideal time to cut back overhanging vegetation. Around March onwards vegetation starts to grow quickly, however it is not a good time to cut back vegetation due to the risk of disturbing nesting birds.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) recommend avoiding hedge cutting during the main breeding season for nesting birds, which usually runs throughout March to August each year. This can be weather dependent and some birds may nest outside this period, so the RSPB state that it is important to always check carefully for active nests prior to cutting. More information can be found on the RSPB’s Hedge Cutting webpage.
It is an offence under Section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981 to intentionally take, damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird while it is in use or being built, or to intentionally kill, injure or take chicks or adults, or intentionally take or destroy any eggs.
SPC recognises that overgrown vegetation next to public footpaths can cause safety and access issues. This includes forcing people into the road, especially those who require good access who may be more vulnerable. Overgrown vegetation also reduces visibility for drivers. As such SPC encourages residents to check their boundaries and cut back vegetation if needed. It is the responsibility of the landowner to do this.
B&NES Council provides more information about this on their B&NES Council Overhanging Vegetation webpage. B&NES Council states that hedges and trees that grow on the boundary of the highway or on adjacent land but overhang the highway are generally the responsibility of the adjoining property or land owner.
It is worth being aware that Bath & North East Somerset Council will intervene if there is a safety concern associated with the encroaching vegetation, for example, if it is forcing footway users into the road in order to pass by. This includes vegetation that causes an obstruction on adopted footways and highways or vegetation that reduces visibility on junctions, entrances and corners.
To report an overhanging vegetation obstruction on the footway if its a safety concern, residents can use the B&NES Council online report it form, or contact Council Connect on 01225 394041 or email Council_Connect@Bathnes.gov.uk.
In the event that the landowner does not remove obstructions due to overhanging trees or protruding hedges/plants after enforcement, the B&NES Council may remedy the problem and recharge the landowner.