Road Verge Management In Powys
The grass cutting season is upon us and you may wonder why the county council cuts verges in Powys.
Powys County Council has to balance the need to conserve remaining species-rich areas with managing fast growing vegetation and preserving safe access and use of the highway itself (including access to ditches, drains and other structures). Vegetation type and growth vary from area to area but generally many verges today have summer vegetation of sufficient height to greatly reduce the visibility on bends and hills.
Vegetation that flops out into the road, particularly after rain, obscures the edges of the road and reducing the width of the carriageway and can be especially problematic for cyclists and pedestrians. Vegetation growing outwards on hedgebanks along narrow lanes can also significantly reduce the accessible width of the carriageway.
Councillor John Brunt, Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “The council is responsible for ensuring that carriageways remain open and are safe to use by everyone whilst taking into account their wildlife value. Every effort is made to minimise the cutting of verges to help preserve wildflowers and wildlife.
“There are currently over 100 Road Verge Nature Reserves in Powys which are important for protecting wildlife and important plant species. The council works in partnership with the three Powys Wildlife Trusts to manage these verges.
“The council also currently undertakes the management of trunk road verges as instructed by the North and Mid Wales Trunk Road Agency.”
The disposal of cutting is also problematic with very few licensed, sustainable composting or other disposal sites available. There are also considerable costs incurred in transporting material to sites, payment for disposal and securing the required environmental standards for use of the final product as compost or agricultural soil improver.
The earliest cutting is targeted at areas within the county where spring growth is most vigorous and major roads are targeted first. Delaying cutting in some areas can cause problems meaning that cutting just before or during the flowering period is unavoidable.
However, this does not necessarily mean the complete loss of all wildflowers as many meadow plants can flower at a reduced height later in the season. Many meadow plants are also perennial (flowering each year) meaning that as long as some can set seed every few years the population will survive.
Botanically important verges (those important for other wildlife such as glow worms) or of a particular value to a local community that meet specified criteria and pose no significant visibility or safety concerns are managed as Road Verge Nature Reserves (RVNR’s). Locally important verges are those that support protected and nationally locally important plant species to support a particularly diverse range of plant species (including grasses, sedges, rushes and ferns).
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