Residents in Bath and North East Somerset are being asked to make sure hedges they own next to pavements are cut back to help pedestrians to social distance.

Overgrown hedges, trees and other vegetation can significantly reduce the amount of space available on footways making it difficult for people to get past, particularly people using wheelchairs who cannot step off the kerb.

Hedges overhanging the pavement can also pose risks to pedestrians who have visual impairments.

Bath & North East Somerset Council maintains the hedges it owns but is asking owners of hedges on private property if they could please do the same.

Garden waste can be disposed of at the council’s recycling centre in Keynsham or via green bin collections.

People are advised they should only proceed with cutting their hedges after checking they will not harm nesting birds by doing so. However, hedge cutting within the nesting season is permitted where the hedge obstructs the safe passage of pedestrians and vehicles. Government guidance on wild bird protection can be found here and on hedge cutting here

Councillor Neil Butters, joint cabinet member for Transport Services, said: “We must all play our part in helping people to safely social distance and make sure there is as much space on the pavement for pedestrians as possible, which is especially important for people with disabilities. We appreciate that before lockdown restrictions eased it was difficult for property owners to dispose of their garden waste, but now our Keynsham recycling centre is open and green bin collections are in operation, we are asking people to cut their hedges back where needed.

“If you have a hedge or other vegetation by a pavement please keep it trimmed so that people have enough room to keep their distance, but you should check for nesting birds beforehand. Thank you for helping us keep our community safe.”

Where essential for public safety, the council can issue a notice to owners of private property asking them to cut back their hedge or other vegetation. If the owner does not action this within an appropriate period, a formal notice can be issued instructing them to carry out the work within 14 days or they could be charged for the council doing the work on their behalf.

Find out how to manage your garden waste at https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/garden-waste

Information about how the council manages council-owned hedgerows can be found here https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/services/sport-leisure-and-parks/parks-green-spaces-grounds-maintenance/hedge-cutting-and-frequently