Council will give Cambridgeshire roadside verges biodiversity make-over

Cambridgeshire County Council aim to boost wildlife and plant species with verge programme.

A roadside verge maintenance programme will aim to boost wildlife habitats and plant species across Cambridgeshire, which will include protecting wildflowers (above). - Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Changes to how roadside verges are maintained will help boost wildlife habitats and plant species across Cambridgeshire, according to councillors. 

A verge maintenance programme was agreed by the county council’s highways and transport committee on March 9 to support biodiversity, such as through protecting wildflowers and improving wildlife corridors. 

These corridors, which are areas of land that connect species with habitats, will provide living spaces for many species, with a particular focus on pollinators such as bees. 

Environmental organisations including Plantlife, the Butterfly Conservation Trust and Cambridge On the Verge discussed the approach in November, while a ‘cut and collect’ approach will also be trialled. 

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 our work and this is 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.” 

The ‘cut and collect’ approach, to be trialled in some villages across Cambridgeshire, will see grass cuttings removed to affect the fertility of soil and help wildflowers grow and thrive. 

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This will provide habitats for a number of species as well as a more aesthetic environment for road users. 

A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson said: “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.” 

Extra trees will also be planted along Cambridgeshire’s highway as part of a policy change. 

Now, two trees will be planted for every one that is removed in a bid to improve air quality in the area, whereas beforehand, when a tree was removed, it must be replaced by another one. 

In 2019, Cambridgeshire County Council declared both a climate and environment emergency in its commitment to tackling climate change. 

Following this, a climate change and environment strategy and action plan was adopted last year, and has planted thousands of trees as well as aiming to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.