03 February 2023

Time to ensure vegetation is not impacting our carriageways or lighting

With Spring and the bird nesting season just around the corner, now’s the time to ensure that vegetation is cut back before the growth kicks in.

Aberdeenshire Council teams are already cutting back growth of trees and shrubs across the region to ensure any amenities are not impacted and to ensure our communities look in great shape throughout the year.

However, our Landscape and Roads Services deal with a significant number of complaints relating to overgrown vegetation which can hamper access on our footpaths, impact the roads network or reduce effective street lighting.

Where vegetation is overhanging the carriageway, footway or obscuring street lighting or road signs, under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 we have the authority to issue a notification to the owner to ask them to remove it within 21 days.

In the vast majority of cases owners are quick to address the issue which we are grateful for, but where it’s not undertaken a statutory notification is issued advising them that they have 28 days to deal with the issue, thereafter the Council may carry out the work and recover the costs from them.

When considering reports of overgrown vegetation, the Council works to a set of defined criteria to assess any impact:

The Public Footway

Trees, hedges, shrubs or other vegetation overhanging the public footway thereby obstructing the width available to pedestrians and in particular to wheelchair users and pushchairs. The full footway width must be available to pedestrians - up to a height of 2.5m above footway level

The Carriageway

Overhanging the public road such as to conflict with vehicular traffic. The full width of the carriageway plus a further 1m width back from the carriageway edge should be clear of overhanging vegetation - up to a height of 5m above carriageway level

Visibility at Bends or Junctions

Growing at a height in excess of 1m above the adjacent carriageway surface level, at a location where the result of such vegetation growth interferes with visibility and thereby poses a potential hazard in terms of road safety. No vegetation at this location shall exceed 1m in height.

Visibility in Relation to Your Driveway

Growing at a height in excess of 1m above road surface level at a location where the result of such vegetation growth interferes with visibility in relation to your driveway and thereby poses a potential hazard in terms of road safety.

Street Lighting

Growing within close proximity to a street lighting column, the effect of which is considered to unduly restrict the amount of light being emitted onto the public road.

Road Signs

Causing obstruction of road sign(s), the effect of which results in approaching road users not being able to clearly read the sign(s).

Roads Manager Brian Strachan explains: “Vegetation can create a safety hazard if it’s not controlled – trees and shrubs can seriously impede motorists’ views of the road ahead, signage and oncoming traffic.

“Similarly, uncontrolled growth along our footpaths can hamper pedestrians, particularly those with prams or those with mobility issues. Council teams have been busy in recent weeks ensuring our roads and footways are kept clear of any overgrowth and this will continue throughout the year. We would encourage all landowners and households to ensure any vegetation bounding our network is also appropriately maintained.”

You can report issues with trees and vegetation here