Appeal to landowners to help keep roads safe this winter

An appeal has been issued to landowners to help keep roads safe by preventing floodwater trees and other debris falling onto highways this winter.

Each year, over the autumn and winter period, Island Roads faces a large number of reports of floodwater, fallen trees or other debris causing disruption or hazards for road users.  Across the UK, on average, at least six people are killed each year by falling trees.

The company, which is responsible for a major programme of repairs and improvements to the highway network on the Isle of Wight, is therefore renewing its appeal to landowners to inspect and clear ditches, watercourses and any unstable trees to help prevent them becoming a hazard for road users. 

Island Roads works all year round using high-pressure jets to clear drainage systems and gullies, repairing defects and putting in new drainage schemes in areas prone to flooding as well as undertaking a programme of tree management and verge cutting on public land to maintain visibility and safety for drivers. 

However, it says that on private land homeowners and landowners also have a duty to ensure adequate land and property drainage systems are in place and to stop water, mud, vegetation, trees and other debris from straying onto the highway.

Anyone who has land adjacent to a watercourse (e.g. river or stream) also has responsibilities in respect of flooding such as maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse, clearing obstructions and maintaining flood defences.

Island Roads network manager Kevin Burton said: “While our staff are out and about working whenever and wherever they are required to keep the network as safe as possible, we also need landowners to do their bit to reduce the risk of flooding and fallen trees and the potential disruption and damage these can cause to road users.   

“We do have powers under the Highways Act and Land Drainage Act that we can introduce to recharge landowners for work needed to keep the network safe, but wherever possible we prefer to appeal to those responsible to act themselves to prevent these types of road safety risks occurring.

“With the bird nesting season having ended, now is the perfect time to start reassessing trees and other vegetation before ground conditions worsen.”

To help landowners, information leaflets produced by Island Roads are available on its website at http://www.islandroads.com/index.php?p=4&n=374