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Cut back on trimming verges, councils urged by wildlife trust

PUBLISHED: 08:37 22 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:37 22 May 2020

Norfolk County Council has been urged to cut back on trimming roadside verges. Inset: cabinet member Martin Wilby. Pictures: Brittany Woodman/Simon Parkin

Norfolk County Council has been urged to cut back on trimming roadside verges. Inset: cabinet member Martin Wilby. Pictures: Brittany Woodman/Simon Parkin

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Wildlife campaigners have urged Norfolk County Council to cut back on how often they trim the region’s grass verges - which have been described as “112 roadside reserves”.

Uncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYUncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Currently, the county council cuts grass verges five times a year in urban areas and twice between May and September elsewhere.

However, with the verges teeming with diverse wildflowers and fauna, the Norfolk Wildlife Trust has urged the council to cut this frequency back and only trim them once a year - providing they do not impede on visibility for motorists.

Writing on Twitter, an NWT spokesman wrote: “We have asked @NorfolkCC to reduce cutting on all verges to once a year (where there are no safety issues with regard to visibility). We will continue to press the case for this - roadside verges can be fantastic habitats for wildlife.”

Martin Wilby, the council’s cabinet member for highways and infrastructure, however, said, cutting the verges was a vital part of the council’s role of keeping roads safe.

Uncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYUncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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He said: “We only cut verges for safety reasons, not appearance. Safety will always be a top priority on our roads and making sure verges are cut for visibility every year is a vital piece of work we do to keep our roads safe.

“We are keen to balance safety needs with supporting nature where possible. I’m very proud of the work we’ve been doing over more than 20 years to support the now 112 roadside nature reserves we have aross the county.

“These are maintained by the county council and Norfolk Widlife Trust and are home to a range of vulnerable plants. These are cut at the end of the summer when the plans have had a chance to flower and seed.”

Uncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYUncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mr Wilby added that in some places, district, borough and parish councils have been delegated authority to maintain the verges and have been issued cultivation licences to plant wildflowers in them.

Cutting of the verges - or roadside reserves - are often limited to one metre in length from the edge of the road to prevent them from impeding visibility.

If people feel a verge near them is a hazard they can fill in a report form via the county council’s website by clicking on ‘roads and transport’ on the home page then selecting ‘report a problem’.


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