Branchage in St Martin will be on :
Thursday, 25th June and Thursday, 3rd September
What the law requires
If you occupy any land bordering public roads and footpaths, the 'branchage law' states that you must have the branchage cut to certain specifications on these areas of your property.
You must make sure:
- there is a clearance of 12 feet over main roads and by-roads
- there is a clearance of 8 feet over footpaths
- that you clear all trimmings from the road / footpath etc afterwards
Your Roadside Plants and Hedges,
Trees and Banks
a guide to the "branchage law"(1) for property occupiers
The "branchage law" (1) makes roads and footpaths ('footpaths' includes pavements) safer for all who use them. It achieves this primarily by requiring that the width of roads and footpaths is not restricted by vegetation.
All occupiers of property (2) bordering public roads and public footpaths in Jersey are obliged by law to trim any vegetation growing on the property that encroaches over the road or footpath, so that it no longer encroaches. A minimum clearance of 12 feet above all public roads and 8 feet above public footpaths and pavements is required, measured vertically from the point at which the surface of the road or footpath meets the property (see drawing). The law requires that all cuttings must be removed.
On two occasions every year, parish officials tour their parishes to ensure that the law has been observed. If occupiers have not complied, they are liable to be fined (3) and instructed to undertake the work. If the work is still not carried out, the parish authorities may arrange for it to be done by a contractor at the occupier's expense.
These official "Visites du Branchage" inspections take place during the first fortnight of July and the first fortnight of September, the exact dates being published in the Jersey Gazette section of the Jersey Evening Post during the last week of June and the last week of August.
Irrespective of these specific Visites du Branchage, it is the duty of the Constable, at all times, to have all impediment branchage (literally "branches") and other obstructions or nuisance removed from the public roads, with similar penalties applicable to those who do not comply.
- Loi (1914 and amendments) sur la Voirie. Branchage is pronounced "brawkaaj"
- The occupier of buildings or land is responsible, not the landlord or owner in the case of rented property.
- Currently (2004) up to £50 per infraction. Non-compliance may be referred to the Royal Court.
The St Martin Roads Committee felt that Parishioners would welcome some advice about how to prepare their hedges for the Branchage:
The following hedging plants and shrubs found around our Parish are ideal for any householder to obtain when contemplating a new boundary plant. Most of us think first of all about privacy, especially in relation to making use of the garden. There are however other factors that we need to consider, the first being shelter from prevailing winds, especially relevant in the light of this autumn's gales, the second being to appreciate the potential of root invasion and then another for those of us who are anxious to encourage wild life habitats. In spite of these considerations there is one further important point we must bear in mind, and this is our regular "BRANCHAGE" which we all know is held twice a year, usually in early July and early September. None of us really wish to be told to cut our hedge especially if we are about to go on holiday or we have been looking forward to a good display of flower.
- A common road-side hedge that we all know is the Hawthorn—Crataegus monogyna, we also often call it the May. This deciduous shrub is reasonably fast-growing, it will make a good hedge for two reasons. First its thorns will make an impenetrable barrier when established, also it has flower and fruit to satisfy the needs of wild life, both insects at flowering time and birds in the autumn. In the early stages it can have good upright growth and is not invasive.
- A further group of excellent plants for boundary hedges are the Elaeagnus, they are evergreen and several varieties have very attractive foliage that will brighten up the garden on duller days. In late summer they have small, sweet scented flowers that give way to orange fruits early in the New Year. Once established they need a trimming in late spring and again in the autumn. The strongest grower is Elaeagnus macrophylla and the best foliage colour is Elaeagnus ebbingei "Gilt Edge"
- With the well known Privet we find either green or gold foliage. They are not always evergreen, depending on location. Both Ligustrum ovalifolium and Ligustrum aureum are not vigorous growers. They have a very strong root system that can be invasive for the smaller garden. Again the top growth needs to be cut back each year in late spring and early autumn.
- Another well known hedging plant is the evergreen Griselinia, with its leathery bright apple-green leaves. It is ideal as a boundary or as a seaside wind-break. There are two we see around, Greselinia littoralis and Griselinia variegata. Both will provide a tidy, non-invasive hedge easy to trim up as with 2 & 3 above.
- The well known Escallonia seems to be a very popular choice for many gardens but not all are suitable for strong hedges but better for shrubs within the garden. Most varieties are evergreen and have foliage with a pleasant scent when cut or bruised. Escallonia "Crimson Spire" has rich dark green leaves and brilliant red flowers most of the summer. In contrast there is the lovely Escallonia iveyi with clusters of white flowers in the late summer. Staying with this group we have Escallonia rubra "Macrantha" that will stand up to strong sea gales and is vigorous up to 10 feet high.
- As a strong and very spiny plant we have Prunus spinosa also known as Sloe and blackthorn. It is a strong dense growing plant that has white flowers in early spring followed by late summer fruit. If grown as a compact hedge I would not put too much hope of making Sloe gin in the autumn.
Finally, the Roads Committee told me that many Parishioners are unhappy at being asked to trim back their hedges when they are flowering nicely in the summer. The way to avoid this is to trim your hedge well back in the Spring, just after the new growth has started. This should mean that when the Visite de Branchage passes by, your hedge will be both attractive and legal!