Changes to the way roadside verges are maintained in Cambridgeshire will see a boost to the county’s wildlife habitats and plant species.
As part of the county council’s commitment to tackling climate change and improving the environment, the Highways and Transport committee agreed a verge maintenance programme that will support biodiversity.
This will include protecting wildflowers and improving wildlife corridors, which are areas of land that connect species with habitats that would otherwise be separated by human activities. These corridors will provide habitats for many species, with a particular focus on pollinators such as bees.
A workshop was held in November to discuss the revised approach, drawing on knowledge from a number of environmental organisations including Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation Trust, Cambridge On the Verge and more. This helped set out aims for the new guidance.
A ‘cut and collect’ approach will also be trialled in some villages across the county. Grass cuttings will be removed, which will affect the fertility of soil and help wildflowers to grow and thrive. This will provide habitats for a number of species as well as a more aesthetic environment for people using the roads.
Extra trees will also be planted along Cambridgeshire’s highways. Currently, the policy is that when a tree is removed, it must be replaced by another tree. But now a policy change will see two trees planted for every one which is removed, with the aim to improve air quality in the area.
Maintaining safety of road users remains a top priority and more cuts will be carried out at areas which have bends in the road or where vision may be blocked.
Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Highways and Transport Committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, said: “We are committed to taking an environmentally friendly approach across all areas of our work and this is just another way we can help support biodiversity in Cambridgeshire. Our highways team will work closely with around 150 City, District, Town and Parish Councils across the county to achieve this and make sure the changes benefit everyone.”
Cambridgeshire County Council is committed to tackling climate change and declared both a climate and environment emergency in 2019. Following this, a Climate Change and Environment Strategy and action plan was adopted by the Council last year. It has also planted thousands of trees and promised to reach carbon net zero by 2050.