Green candidate appeals to council to 'stop digging up Offaly's verges'
Pippa Hackett, the Green Party candidate for the Edenderry electoral area in the upcoming local elections, has criticised Offaly County Council for their continued "destruction of our roadside verges."
"I’ve been told that they are to allow surface water to get away, but one would have to question the wisdom behind this process, and also the location and frequency of these crude culverts," Pippa said.
“They have been at this now for a number of years, and it seems to be particularly prevalent in this part of Offaly. The main road between Geashill and Cloneygowan, either side of Raheen Church has been aesthetically destroyed – parts of it look like some sort of warzone. Tourists must wonder at what has happened when they drive through this part of the country. Some have been dug out every five metres or so in areas that have never been affected by flooding."
“Even on the smaller side roads, these channels have been cut into the verges at the top of hills, and into the verges in front of people’s homes. Some are totally unnecessary, and most are doing little to address the problem of surface water."
"The mounds of soil that remain are not only unsightly; they pose a significant danger for road users. A friend of mine pulled into the verge last summer to make way for an oncoming car, and pulled the bumper off their car on one of these mounds, which was hidden with new grass growth. Driving onto one of these verges in an emergency situation to avoid a collision, could result in something far more catastrophic," Hackett added.
“In addition, these culverts attract litter, and fly tipping into them has become common. They also make life particularly difficult for farmers and landowners as they seek to maintain their verges, and trim their roadside hedges."
“Roadside verges should add to our countryside, not take away from it. I would strongly urge the County Council to cease this activity, and to restore our verges back to their natural state."
"At a minimum, they should remove or spread the mounds of soil around so they are less obstructive, unsightly, and dangerous - perhaps sowing some wild flower seeds as they go. The council might also examine more long-term solutions to flooding, such as designing roads with a proper camber, and supporting the planting of more trees and hedges in areas with high flood risks."
"Growing vegetation might serve to be particularly effective at absorbing any excess water if it runs off into the verges. But something needs to be done – citizens and visitors to Offaly deserve better," Pippa concluded.