By Matthew Taylor
Nottinghamshire County Council will reduce how often they cut the grass on some rural roads across the county to see if it would benefit the local wildlife.
The pilot trial will take place at Top Road and Springs Road in Misson, near Retford and East Bridgford Road, as well as Main Street and Newton Lane in Newton, near East Bridgford.
The trial is for one growing season only and is only on roads with a speed limit of 50mph or more.
The standard cutting frequency for rural roads (without footways) is a single swath cut up to 1.2m in length.
The process takes place twice a year with the full width of the verge cut every third year.
During the current growing season, the trial sites will halve their cutting frequency to an annual single swathe cut.
However there are no existing plans to permanently reduce how often the grass is cut at the trial sites in future years.
Committee chairman for communities and place Councillor John Cottee said: “The trial sites are being monitored through the current growing season to ensure the reduced grass cutting frequency does not compromise safety.
“If safety concerns are identified the sites will immediately revert back to the original cutting frequencies.
“We believe this is worth trialling for the potential environmental benefits it can bring to Nottinghamshire.”
Northern conservation officer at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust Mark Speck said: “This pilot trial will allow broadleaved plants the opportunity to flower and, crucially, set seed.
“There will be an increased amount of pollen and nectar source for insects and arguably an attractive appearance to our roadside verges.
“Before the advent of herbicides and fertilisers, flower filled meadows were a familiar sight in Nottinghamshire.
“Sadly 97 per cent of species-rich grasslands in the county have disappeared since the 1930s.
“This means our road verges have become a vital refuge for wildflowers but with careful management grasslands can thrive in the county once again with beautiful wildflowers and grasses supporting butterflies and a wealth of other wildlife.
“We fully understand motorist and pedestrian safety will be an important consideration when undertaking the trial.”
Following the trial, a report will be compiled and presented to the committee for discussion.
It will highlight any safety concerns, identification of potential savings or ecological benefits and a review of concerns raised by both parish and district councils.