Warwickshire County Council (WCC) is responsible for maintaining around 25 million square metres of highway verge. These can include the strips of land between the roadside and the footway, fence, hedge or wall next to it, and it is one of the most valuable and natural resources that we are responsible for managing. Our main duty is to maintain the network of highway verges to make sure they are safe to use and free from obstructions. So our focus is to cut the grass to make sure that vegetation doesn’t restrict visibility for highway users and to provide a safe refuge for pedestrians.
However, we also know that when verges are left to grow wild, they can play an important ecological role. They can act as corridors connecting other areas of habitat, providing food and shelter for many species of invertebrates such as grasshoppers, butterflies, wasps and bees, as well as small mammals. So following on from national discussions over sustainable verge maintenance and the recent publication of Plantlife’s Good Verge Guide, we are now also taking biodiversity and sustainability into our plans for Warwickshire’s verges. Our goal is to maintain their high environmental value, whilst still recognising the overriding importance of road safety.
As we make plans for 2022, our next step is to explore how we might be able to adjust our own rural cutting regime to improve biodiversity and create wildlife corridors as well consider how we might be able to engage with local communities to adjust and reduce the number of verge cuts, within towns and villages, to enable the existing flora and fauna to flourish.