Grass cutting in Northern Ireland gets extra funding

Grass

The BBC has learned that more funding has been made available for an improved grass cutting service across Northern Ireland for 2018/19.

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) revealed in 2017 that it would have to reduce the routine maintenance service on grass verges.

The reason for the cutback was budget constraints.

In previous years, cutting took place twice a year and up to five times in urban areas.

'£2m has been saved'

In June 2017 the DfI said: "Regrettably, the department will not be able to fund councils to cut grass this year."

It said all roadside verges and sightline grassed areas would only be cut at least once in the period April-October 2017.

That did happen, according to a response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request submitted by BBC News NI.

Image copyright iStock
Image caption Overgrown weeds are also a huge problem for the Department for Infrastructure

The FOI also revealed that almost £2m has been saved by reducing grass cutting and environmental works since 2013/14.

"Budgetary constraints have had a significant impact on road maintenance service delivery in recent years," a spokesperson said.

"Since 2013/14, the last year the department carried out a full road maintenance service, spend on grass cutting, weed spraying, tree cutting and emergency works has been reduced from £6.6m per annum to £4.7m."

However, the FOI response states that the budget set out by the Northern Ireland secretary in March 2018, allows for the 2018/19 maintenance programme to include an "enhanced grass cutting service".

"This will ensure all roadside verges and sightline grass will be cut at least twice in the period between April and October and a full weed spraying service.

"This work has already commenced across the region."

The total number of enquiries made about grass cutting, overgrown weeds and the restriction of sightlines between May 2017 and May 2018 was 3,574 across all of Northern Ireland.

Only 192 of those enquiries were from councillors or MLAs.

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