Rural Verges as Wildlife Corridors – Trial of Early Season Reduction in Rural Grass Cutting

In 2021 we undertook a trial to reduce the number of cuts rural verges receive in 12 select Parishes. Rural verges usually have two cuts per season of visibility and a 1 metre wide swathe along the length of the verge.

The trial reduced the grass cutting service of rural verges in those areas to:

  • One visibility cut undertaken around May/June
  • One 1 metre Swathe with Visibility cuts in the Autumn

This change meant that we would not cut rural verges (except for visibility) at a time when flowering is often at its peak and it is the most beneficial time for pollinators. Flowering plants would then be able to complete their lifecycles and set seed, providing further biodiversity benefits. Safety issues remained our priority, with any visibility or access issues being picked up and rectified through the usual process. 

Outcome & Next Steps

On the whole the trial was well received however, last year was not a typical growing season with rainfall in the spring and summer well above average and therefore we will be repeating the trial this year with some additional parishes included who previously expressed an interest but could not be accommodated at the time. Repeating the trial will also enable us to adjust our operational practices based on lessons learnt from last year. 

Trial Areas

The following Parish and Town Councils opted to take part in the trial for 2022:

  • Ashburnham
  • Battle
  • Beckley
  • Brightling
  • Burwash
  • Chiddingly
  • Crowhurst
  • Ditchling
  • Framfield
  • Frant
  • Hastings
  • Heathfield and Waldron
  • Lewes
  • Wadhurst
  • Warbleton
  • Westmeston 

Background

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) have received an increased level of Member and resident contact regarding the rural roads verge cutting service over the past two years. The correspondence is largely made up of requests to stop cutting rural verges or change the schedule and frequency.

Due to the heightened interest in the ecological value of roadside verges and their contribution to the landscape and character of the County, ESCC are undertaking a trial to reduce the rural grass cutting service in selected Towns and Parishes.

We want to hear from you!

As part of the trial we will be monitoring the verges, alongside the local councils and their wildlife organisations to record what grows.

We would also like to hear about what you see, and your feedback to the trial.

You can submit your thoughts and findings on our webform below.

The responses from this form will be reviewed once the trial has finished and we will then provide an overview of the trial and any next steps.

Please note, responses will not be regularly monitored nor responded to individually; any issues should be reported using the usual avenues.  

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FAQs

What about safety and visibility?

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How do I report a problem about highway visibility?

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Is this reduction being done to save money?

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What rural cuts are other Parish and Town Councils Receiving in East Sussex?

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Will this be a permanent change?

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Does this affect Urban Grass cutting?

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What will be done about the litter in verges?

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Does a verge have to have flowers to benefit ecology?

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Why do some verges have more flowers than others and as a result are much more attractive?

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Now that it’s July/August, the flowers have all died and the verges are looking brown and untidy, why don’t you cut them?

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I live in the area where the trial will take place, why wasn’t I consulted?

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