Highways England and its contractors are reintroducing local wild flowers and grass species on road side verges in Devon and Cornwall after a winning a top environmental award.
An innovative pilot, which used green hay and a wide variety of seeds collected from nearby sites to enhance verges on the A30 near Hayle, won the Pollinator category and overall prize in the CIRIA BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards at the end of last year.
And the scheme has been so successful there are plans to roll it out to other sites along the A30 and A38 in Devon and Cornwall.
Highways England South West Regional Director, Andrew Page-Dove said:
We value greatly the part we play in protecting and enhancing the region’s rich environment and we are delighted our innovative work on the road verges in Cornwall has been recognised.
The initiative used the ‘whole crop’ method, harvesting the seeds from existing local species rich roadside verges and introducing them at new cleared sites where invasive scrub and self-seeding trees had been before.
The introduced species, including oxeye daisy, poppy, corn cockle, tufted vetch, knapweed, bird’s foot trefoil, wild carrot and yellow rattle provide a vital source of pollen and nectar for the UK’s insect and butterfly species.
Project manager, Tina Barrington, added:
Highways England and our contractors Kier are committed to protecting the environment.
The project was born out of a realisation that roadside verges could be further enhanced to provide real gains for biodiversity, in particular for pollinators such as butterflies, bees and hover flies.
Not only does the approach promote species rich grassland using seeds from the local area, it also promotes habitat for many pollinating species, which are in decline.
The project also aligns with DEFRA’s National Pollinator Strategy and environmental charity’s Buglifes’ B-line initiative, which aims to create a nationwide network for pollinating species such as bees.
Kier’s senior ecologist Leonardo Gubert said:
As well as actively managing our grassland resources further schemes are now being undertaken this summer at locations on the A30 in Devon between Okehampton and Whiddon Down and hopefully in the future on the A38 between Ashburton and Wrangaton.
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