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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Council trial scheme to give road verges ‘back to nature’

It is hoped the scheme could save money for the cash-strapped Nottinghamshire County Council, while also encouraging biodiversity and greener spaces.

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Hundreds of miles of road verges could be ‘given back to nature’, with less aggressive verge trimming, more trees planted, and current trees left to grow.

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It is hoped the scheme could save money for the cash-strapped Nottinghamshire County Council, while also encouraging biodiversity and greener spaces.

It comes after a small-scale trial last year to cut grass less often, but due to the heatwave last summer the uncut grass grew less than expected and the results of the trial have been deemed inconclusive.

Now, a wider trial will be held this year with more environmentally-friendly policies trialled, and then a review will be held next year.

If deemed successful, it could be rolled out in more places across the county council’s 2,600-mile road network.

The county’s highways boss, Councillor John Cottee, said the review would look in-depth at this.

“If that review concludes that it is safe to cut vegetation less extensively, or less often than it is now, then this will be a win-win policy, easing pressure on the budget, while increasing the opportunity for wildflowers, and small wildlife to flourish on our roadsides.”

As well as the wildflower planting, the trial is also going to look at whether weed control could be done less frequently.

Glyphosate, a controversial weed killer which was linked to cancer in a high-profile US court case last year, is currently used by the council on its land.

Councillor Cottee, who represents Keyworth for the Conservatives said: “I suspect many of us in this chamber would agree in principle to minimising the amount of chemicals we use in our local natural environment. It can only be a good thing.

“Therefore I’m seeking the support of members to carefully review products we use for weed control, and investigate whether there is scope to reduce the amount of chemicals we apply, and the frequency with which it is applied.

“This is really the first step of this, and while there may be savings in cutting grass there will be other costs involved. So I’m not expecting to make a load of money in this.”

Labour councillor John Peck, who represents Sherwood Forest, said: “We are playing our part in reversing the decline of bees, other insect life and butterflies, but I think more of this can be done.

“Just not cutting grass by itself doesn’t encourage that much in the way of wild flowers, and without proper management the result is just very long grass.

“We are strongly in favour of the suggestion of planting more trees on county council land.”

The motion was unanimously passed at a meeting of Nottinghamshire County Council yesterday, Thursday, July 11.

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