Grass verges trial prompts responses

PUBLISHED: 12:00 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:23 29 May 2020

Green Party Saffron Walden Town Councillor Trilby Roberts. Picture: Dr. Rick Wylie.

Green Party Saffron Walden Town Councillor Trilby Roberts. Picture: Dr. Rick Wylie.


Local councillors have reacted to the news that Essex County Council and Braintree District Council have launched an initiative in which sections of roadside will be left for rewilding – leaving grass and flowers to grow to help wildlife and the environment.

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County CouncilKevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council

The trial will first go ahead in Braintree and several parishes, including Bardfield Saling, Great Saling and Great Notley.

Grass verges in central areas of the district will only be cut once a year instead of twice, but road safety remains an important consideration and the County Council says limited cuts may be carried out in “critical safety areas”.

Councillor Kevin Bentley, Deputy Leader of Essex County Council and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure, said: “I’m delighted to support this plan to add to the existing ‘special verges’ where wildlife protection takes priority and I certainly support extending it to other areas if it is successful.”

Cllr Wendy Schmitt, Braintree District Council’s cabinet member for environment, said: “I am delighted this trial is taking place. I have campaigned for a number of years for better protection of rural verges, supported by Braintree District Council, as these are important havens for wildlife with many common and rare species of wildflowers, insects and animals.”

Green Party Saffron Walden Town Councillor Trilby Roberts praised Cllr Schmitt for “sticking to her plans” and Cllr Bentley for his “support” - but said there’s a relatively small amount of pollinators in Braintree as compared to Saffron Walden.

She said that Buglife, a nature conservation charity, mapped most of the country’s wildflower-rich locations with lines that allow insects to move onto new areas of nourishment as one is depleted – which is essential to their thriving.

“The map covering some of the eastern counties shows how absolutely central Saffron Walden is to pollinator habitat enrichment and pathways,” Cllr Roberts said.

Colin Bennett, Salings Parish Councillor for footpaths, planning and finance said: “I think it’s a good idea because it helps the wildlife and insects, unless it obstructs the views on junctions and it’s a cost cutting thing - but I don’t blame them for trying to cut costs.”

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