By Georgina Judd
Road verges can be havens for nature. If they are managed well, grassland plants, pollinating insects and lots of other wildlife can thrive on them – creating a network for nature and building resilience to climate change.
Thanks to the amazing support of the village for the No-Mow-May and West Sussex County Council (WSCC) Community Road Verge projects last year – Hurstpierpoint will be the first village in West Sussex (other than Midhurst in the South Downs National Park) to trial a WSCC cut-and-collect scheme.
Road safety permitting, all the urban verges, i.e. those within the 30mph zones, will be mown three times a year in Spring, Summer and early Autumn. BUT rather than the cuttings being left behind, they will be collected using WSCC’s only cut-and-collect mower. These cuttings will be taken to the composting facility in Albourne for recycling into peat-free compost.
Taking the cuttings away means they don’t rot back into the soil, fuelling more plant growth. The grass then doesn’t grow as tall or spread as much and there is more space for daisies, dandelions and other low-growing plants. In this first year, the vegetation will grow longer than usual between cuts but, as soil fertility drops, it will get shorter. The summer cut can then stop giving more varieties of wild plants (including grasses) time to flower and set seed.
Thank you to all the volunteers that helped with raking road verges last year and to all Hurst residents for their understanding and patience. We ask you to hold on to that patience for a little longer while we trial this scheme for WSCC Highways to create a network of nature-friendly verges across the whole village and hopefully across West Sussex.