Wildflowers flourish under Cornwall Council’s new verge cutting policy

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Wildflowers are being left to flourish in towns and villages under Cornwall Council’s new approach to urban verge-cutting.

The Council is responsible for maintaining over 75 hectares of urban verges across the Duchy. These are the verges you see within 30mph zones.  

Previously, these sites were mown around eight times a year starting in spring. However, at the start of the pandemic, grounds maintenance operations on urban verges were held back which resulted in a flush of native wild flora, drawing in insects and other wildlife.

Over the winter Cornwall Council carried out a public consultation asking residents how they wanted the verges to be managed in the future. The results of the survey, which received more than 2,000 responses, overwhelmingly suggested that residents wanted to see nature encouraged to flourish.

As a result, Cornwall Council has introduced a new policy which aims to encourage wildflowers and pollinators to thrive, without compromising road safety.

Verges will now be cut two or three times a year, instead of eight, and cuttings will take place after the flowers have finished blooming and seeds are set.  

The Council will still be tidying path edges, cut around benches and fixtures, ensuring visibility for safety reasons, as well as removing noxious weeds. Cutting at junctions and bends on the highway will also continue to ensure roads remain safe and visibility is not compromised.

Martyn Alvey, portfolio holder for Environment and Climate Change at Cornwall Council, said: “During the pandemic our verges became full of colour as wildflowers took back control.

“We know that many of our residents appreciate this natural beauty and we listened to the feedback we received during the public consultation.

“This policy aims to help flora and wildlife thrive while also ensuring that our roads and pathways remain safe for residents and visitors.”

Mike Beckett, Interim Environment Contract and Change Manager at Cormac Ltd, which is responsible for cutting back the verges on behalf of Cornwall Council, said: “It’s amazing how quickly nature bounced back. Many verges that would have been cut back by now are covered with beautiful flowers.

“Our teams work hard to ensure that our roads and pathways remain safe and this will continue.

“Areas that need to be cleared for safety reasons will be cut back and care will be taken to ensure that wildflowers are left to flourish where possible.”

Story published on June 17, 2021

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