Dorset Council has a statutory duty to maintain the road network and to make sure it is safe. Striking the balance between protecting road users and encouraging wildlife can be a sensitive issue.
While some people love the wild verges, others would prefer them cut back.
Dorset Council has said it is proud of its roadside verge maintenance and is committed to a healthy environment.
Where it can, the council allows rural roadside grasses and wildflowers to grow long and wild. This attracts pollinators like bees and butterflies and encourages wild flowers to flourish. The council points out that there is a cost saving to this method too.
In Dorset, urban roads usually receive around six or seven cuts per year. In some places, with the right machinery, grass is cut and collected. This allows the verges to be cut less frequently than usual and the clippings are removed, leaving the verge neat and tidy. This helps extend the time between cuts and helps wildflowers to thrive.
Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Highways, Travel and the Environment explains more: “Our primary duty with regards to roadside verges is one of safety, which we take very seriously. But, we, like many residents can see the benefit of letting the verges grow, where possible. Through our Pollinator Action Plan, we want to actively encourage more bees, butterflies and moths to thrive in Dorset. Our Action Plan also enables us to make significant savings – we save around £93k a year by only cutting rural road verges when needed.
“We also no longer use topsoil when creating new road verges, as the subsoil results in wildflower rich grass which is of greater use to pollinators and costs less to manage. On the Weymouth Relief Road, for example, this method resulted in savings of £2,200 per year in management costs.”
The total length of rural roads being cut in Dorset is 1,672 miles. So whether you like long and wild, or neat and tidy, if you think a verge is making visibility at a road junction a problem, contact the council who should be able to undertake additional cutting on an ‘as needed’ basis, in order to maintain safe passage along the highway.
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