Council sets out its grass cutting policy to balance both safety and environmental benefits
As the recent wet weather and subsequent warm spell has provided the perfect conditions for prolific plant growth, Wiltshire Council has modified its approach to grass cutting to keep highways safe, while at the same time allowing wildlife to thrive.
On rural highways, the council started cutting visibility splays on junctions and some bends, along with some of the particularly narrow lanes in the middle of May. The remaining verges will be left uncut until September, which enables wildflowers to set seed and spread more widely in the verge.
The council has also been piloting a 'cut and collect' on the whole of the A350 in the county, to encourage wildflowers to grow. Collecting the grass means less nutrients go back into the soil, and this creates conditions that encourage the growth of wildflowers.
In urban areas, general grass areas are cut monthly from March-October, while in some amenity areas the council undertakes an environmental cut once in March, July and September, which gives native plants an opportunity to thrive. It is also currently running wildflower trials in amenity areas, also on a 'cut and collect' basis.
Cllr Dr Mark McClelland, Cabinet Member for Highways and Street Scene, said: "We know that grass cutting is very important to the people of Wiltshire, and we regularly receive correspondence on the subject.
"This usually falls into three categories: people who are concerned about road safety issues caused by tall grass growth; people who want us to cut more as they see growth as untidy; and people who want us to cut less to allow wildflowers to grow.
"Balancing these viewpoints can be challenging, but through a range of measures and management techniques depending on the area, we are working to ensure we find the right balance between safety, tidiness and allowing wildflowers to flourish.
"Our grass cutting approach has been designed to provide a good balance to keep our green spaces safe and tidy, while at the same time giving wildflowers an opportunity to thrive. We also regularly review our grounds maintenance to make improvements, acting on feedback from our local communities about their area."