Over 50% reduction in number of verges for conservation grass cutting
Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed disappointment that Herts County Council has reduced, by over 50 percent, the number of highway verges where it will apply a wildflower biodiversity cut. It will, instead, revert to full grass cutting.
In 2020 the County Council started a trial looking at 40 sites. This was reduced to 22 during 2021. Now 12 of these sites are being reverted to full grass cutting rather than a conservation cut and collect regime that would have encouraged wild flowers.
Nigel Taylor, Lib Dem councillor for Berkhampsted said," The County Council says it is committed to a Sustainable Hertfordshire Strategy but it is moving far too slowly and in the wrong direction. We should be increasing the areas that have a conservation cut and lift, not reducing them. It is clear from the reports where this has been done that we have encouraged new wild flowers, including orchids and unusual grassland species."
Lib Dem County Group Leader Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst commented, "Whilst we can understand that on some of the trial sites, due to the need for road closures or ongoinging unsuitability due to verges no longer being in place or having the wrong soil type, it is so disappointing that no new sites are being added this year. This is the wrong direction of travel. We need to be bold and push forward to encourage sustainability and diversity on the millions of sq meters of highway verges in the county as part of our action on the climate emergency.
At least the administration accepted our demands that local members should be able to suggest potential suitable sites and that the council will make public the criteria agreed with the Herts and Middlesex WildLife Trust for this type of conservation cut and lift so that District and Borough councils can follow suit. We must do more."