East Sussex County Council have declared another 36 new wildlife verges over the last year, bringing the number to 176. In total in the county 125 miles of verges have been designated – the approximate distance from Lewes to Cambridge.
The verges are easily identifiable by a small yellow, flower shaped sign.
Cllr Claire Dowling, Lead Member for Transport and the Environment, said:
Creating more wildlife verges and reducing rural grass cutting across East Sussex is an important part of our work to protect our natural environment.
Wildlife verges provide valuable wildlife corridors and support diverse ecosystems, allowing rare wildflowers to flourish and offering a vital refuge for pollinators and other wildlife.
Rural road verges can often be the last areas of declining habitats, such as woodland edges, meadows and downland, and it is important we protect and develop these natural environments.Cllr Claire Dowling
Grass Cutting Policy
As a result of budget cuts, in residential areas East Sussex County Council reduced the number of times they cut roadside verges to twice during the growing season. Four town and parish councils opted to pay for additional cuts and others chose to cut the verges themselves (inc Rotherfield). Crowborough Town Council decided to receive the two basic cuts. For more information click to see the grass cutting policy.
Roadside verges that support rare or vulnerable species, provide important habitats, or allow residents to have contact with the natural world may be declared a wildlife verge.
East Sussex wildlife verges have been very successful. A rare Lizard orchid has been found growing on a site in Lewes, and one East Sussex verge contains 68 per cent of the UK population of Spiked Rampion. Both species are protected under Schedule 8 of the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act.
To protect the natural habit and allow the wildflowers to bloom and seed, wildlife verges will usually only be cut once a year and not at all between the beginning of March and the end of August.
Following increased interest in the ecological value of roadside verges and requests from residents for fewer cuttings, East Sussex Highways is also currently carrying out a rural grass cutting trial.
Verges in 12 parishes (including Crowborough) across the county will be cut just once this year to help create more wildlife corridors. East Sussex Highways will be monitoring the verges during the trial to record what grows.
Residents who believe a verge to be of special ecological interest can submit an application for it to be considered a wildlife verge.
People can find out more about the rural grass cutting trial, or provide feedback, on their website www.eastsussexhighways.com.