Council appeals to public to help keep streets leaf-free during winter months

The days are getting colder and the nights are drawing in.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 6:00 am
Leaf collectors in 2018.

But as winter approaches so too does the added risk of falls and other accidents caused by slippery leaves covering pavements.

The risk of accidents is highest amongst children, the elderly, and other vulnerable people.

Edinburgh City Council is calling on the public to help mitigate the risk of leaf-fall related accidents, and has asked residents to help by clearing up leaves from their own gardens.

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Each year tonnes of fallen leaves are collected from Edinburgh’s streets and sent to be recycled into compost.

Human and mechanical sweepers target vulnerable locations as a priority, including cycle routes and areas around sheltered housing.

Yesterday Environment Convener Cllr Lesley Macinnes called on residents to do their bit to help the council by clearing up leaves from trees in their own gardens.

Around half of Edinburgh’s trees – approximately 325,000 – grow in private gardens and on private land, many of which shed leaves on to nearby public pavements.

Around 7,000 of the city’s trees are looked after by the council.

Local residents body the Grange Association already organises annual leaf clean-ups, and this year has requested 400 'rubble' bags, brushes and shovels to help them get to work.

The full bags will be collected for recycling by a street cleansing vehicle and the rubble bags re-used.

Equipment and support is available to other community groups keen to join in the leaf-cleaning activity.

Cllr Macinnes said: "Edinburgh has more trees than residents and it's wonderful to live in such a leafy, green city. However, when autumn comes around, clearing leaves presents a real challenge; our response has to be dynamic and flexible each year due to seasonal variations and changes in leaf fall rate among different species of trees in the city. We deploy a dedicated fleet of mechanical sweepers to help street cleansing staff remove leaves manually and are always careful to prioritise cycle routes and vulnerable locations like sheltered housing.

"We can't be everywhere at once, though, and all it takes is a sudden hard frost for Edinburgh's pavements to become covered in a thick carpet of leaves. And the inescapable fact is that a significant proportion of leaves falling on the pavements come directly from trees in private gardens that overhang public roads. That's why today we're urging everyone to follow the excellent example set by the Grange Association in helping us tackle the issue. After all, you'd clear up your hedge clippings, so why not leaves, too?"