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Highway Maintenance

Control of Weeds on the Public Highway

1. Introduction

1.1 Weeds can occur on all surfaces that constitute the public highway.

1.2 Weeds growing on hardened surfaces may cause structural damage and the general perception of such growth is that it is untidy.

1.3 Certain weeds may impose a safety risk to highway users or have special requirements or legislation regarding their control.

2. Relevant Legislation/Documentation

2.1 The Weeds Act 1959 lists the weeds that are deemed to be injurious and that are generally controlled as a result of a notice issued by the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

2.1.1 “Ragwort Control Act” (This amendment is an act in its own right).

2.2 The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 lists the weeds that are not permitted to be cultivated and require control where they are found to be growing.

2.3 The "Delivering Best Value in Highway Maintenance - A Code of Practice for Highway Management" document published by the Department for Transport (DfT) recommends procedures for weed control.

3. Policy

3.1 General Policy Statement

3.1.1 Hampshire County Council recognises that weed growth can cause damage to the highway network. Additionally the County Council recognises the potential safety implications and the unsightly nature of weed growth on the public highway.

3.1.2 In order to maintain the public highway and comply with recommended practices and legal requirements, Hampshire County Council has adopted a series of planned and specific maintenance activities.

3.1.3 Unless required by legislation, Hampshire County Council's policy of weed management is one of control, not eradication.

3.1.4 Suitable methods of control for all weeds shall be determined taking into account the safety of operatives and the public, timing of control, size of infestation, effectiveness, and the effect on the environment. The requirements of any legislation will also affect the type of control.

3.2 Weeds not listed in the Weeds Act 1959 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

3.2.1 Weeds present on grassed verges shall be controlled as part of the regular programme of verge grass cutting and in accordance with the associated procedure.

3.2.2 Weeds present on hardened surfaces shall be controlled by a specific programme of weed control.

3.2.3 Regular programmes of work may be supplemented with spot treatments as required.

3.3 Weeds listed in the Weeds Act 1959 and the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981

3.3.1 Note: Common Ragwort is listed within the Weeds Act 1959 as an injurious weed. The control of ragwort is specifically covered by an amendment to the act cited as the Ragwort Act 2003.

3.3.2 Identification of sites affected by weeds listed in these Acts shall be carried out through the existing highway inspection system, knowledge of previous infestations and notification from external sources.

3.3.3 Sites identified as being affected with such weeds shall be prioritised in accordance with the severity of infestation and requirements of their associated Act.

3.4 The use of Herbicides to Control Weeds

3.4.1 Herbicides are deemed to be an effective method of controlling weeds in most cases.

3.4.2 Accordingly Hampshire carries out a targeted application of appropriate herbicides. Normally this is carried out twice each year.

3.4.3 Where herbicides are used to control weeds only those deemed to be effective, with the minimum negative impact on the environment shall be specified. Treatment of weeds using herbicides shall be carried out in accordance with the relevant procedure.

Version No:   1.1

Effective from:   14/10/2010

If copied or printed, this document should be treated as uncontrolled and correct only at the date it was copied or printed.


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