The Council had before it a Notice of Motion set out in the agenda papers standing in the names of Mrs E B Tucker, Prof J W Raine, Mr M E Jenkins and Mrs F M Oborski.
The motion was moved by Mr M E Jenkins and seconded by Mrs F M Oborski who both spoke in favour of it, and Council agreed to deal with it on the day.
In the ensuing debate, the following points were made:
· It was acknowledged that the Council was doing a lot to improve the biodiversity of verges. This motion sought to establish what more could be done and whether anything could be learned from the approach taken by Lincolnshire County Council in using grass cuttings to generate energy albeit recognising that circumstances might be different in this county. This motion was also in line with the Council’s pollinator-friendly approach
· An assurance was sought that the policy of cutting road verges at least one metre from the highway would continue
· There should be more planting of wildflowers on roadside verges in the county
· The Cabinet Member for Environment indicated that the Council was already undertaking the proposed measures. The topography in Lincolnshire was different and allowed the machinery to be used in a way that reduced the carbon footprint which might not be possible in this county. He gave an assurance that view splays would continue to be cut back in line with Council policy. The Council was looking at other ways of reducing grass growth for example by introducing other plant species. It was important that there was no increase in carbon emissions whatever approach was adopted. He encouraged members to make use of the Natural Network Programme
· As a pollinator-friendly Council, the Council undertook to cut as little of the verge as possible
· There was a lack of information regarding the cost and carbon emissions involved in the approach adopted by Lincolnshire County Council. The impact of the cut and cart approach on soil fertility levels also needed to be considered
· Lincolnshire County Council had adopted the right approach by cutting the grass in order to improve the biodiversity of the verge. However different approaches should be considered that might be more appropriate to this county
· There were also good examples of wildflower planting on grass verges in urban areas eg. Rotherham Council
· A concern was expressed about the impact on grazing animals of allowing grass verges to grow where ragwort was present.
On being put to the vote, the motion was agreed unanimously.
RESOLVED: “Lincolnshire County Council is letting its grass verges grow wild over summer in order to encourage pollinators such as butterflies and bees instead of mowing them. At the end of the summer, the grass will be cut and the long cuttings sent to be used as biofuel. The money made from the scheme will be put back into maintaining the verges for next year.
The Council has produced a “tool kit” for other interested councils, so others could trial this energy production technique, and charities the RHS and Plantlife have endorsed such schemes.
See https://www.lincstrust.org.uk/wildlife/wildlife-gardening/wildflower-hub/verges-faq for more information.
This is a great idea that Worcestershire County Council should investigate. Council asks for the Cabinet Member with Responsibility to commission a report into the feasibility of implementing a similar scheme in Worcestershire."