Branchage literally means 'branches'. The branchage refers to the law which ensures that any vegetation growth that overhangs roads and footpaths is cut back. This includes hedges, branches, trees, shrubs, grass and flowers etc.
By having the branchage trimmed, these areas are safer for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and anyone else who uses them.
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
Branchage must be cut to these specifications year-round so that roads and pavements are as safe as possible. However, twice a year the branchage in every parish is inspected. These inspections are called the Visites du Branchage.
The first Visites du Branchage takes place for two weeks from 27 June, and the second one is during the first two weeks of September in each parish.
Details of exact dates and other information are published in the gazette section of the Jersey Evening Post.
The Visites du Branchage
The visites, made up of the parish Connétable, Vingteniers, Centeniers and members of the Roads Committee, check that land occupiers have completed the branchage in accordance with the law.
Roads on the Your Parish Online website
Who needs to complete the branchage?
The branchage must be carried out by (or on behalf of) anyone occupying land that borders public roads or footpaths. The landlord or land owner is not responsible if the land is rented. The branchage is the responsibility solely of the occupier.
If the branchage is not completed, you may be fined and / or the parish may arrange for the work to be done and for you to be charged for it. You can be fined at any time of the year.
Helping the environment
The National Trust for Jersey provides advice about good hedgerow and habitat management. They suggest that you:
- cut with hand tools when possible
- allow plants to set seed if they're not overhanging
- leave tussocks of vegetation for insects
- never carrying out heavy hedge work during the bird breeding season (1 March to 31 July)
- never cut so much that bare soil is exposed
- never cut rare or endangered plants
- never routinely using chemicals
Any advice provided by the National Trust does not guarantee that the branchage has been cut to the parish’s required standard. You could still be fined if any growth overhangs the road / footpath.