Councillors back re-wilding scheme to improve biodiversity

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 30 July 2019

Wild flowers at Sand Bay

Wild flowers at Sand Bay

(c) copyright

Biodiversity across North Somerset will be improved thanks to a national initiative.

Cllr Steve Bridger. Picture: North Somerset CouncilCllr Steve Bridger. Picture: North Somerset Council

North Somerset Council has agreed to embark on a re-wilding programme, a colourful alternative approach to grass cutting.

Instead of cutting down grass verges, they will be allowed to grow naturally and several local authorities in England have taken to re-wilding their roadsides by planting wildflowers instead.

Cllr Catherine Gibbons proposed a motion at a full council meeting on July 23, which was unanimously supported, for the authority to identify as many verges, parks and open spaces as possible where the programme can be adopted.

Cllr Gibbons cited Rotherham, in Yorkshire, as an example where more than eight miles of grass verges have been replaced with flowers, saving its council an estimated £25,000 in the past four years.

She said: "This scheme is vital to restoring our ecosystems and sustaining a high level of biodiversity.

"The programme will also create additional habitats for bees, insects and other wildlife and provide attractive wild areas of educational value to the community.

"This is only a small step but we need to take it to show the community we are committing to making this change in North Somerset and making it a better place for all our residents."

Members also agreed they would help town, parish and community groups with their re-wilding and tree-planting projects.

Councillors hope a re-wilding programme will cut costs and be a small step to help tackle climate change.

The authority declared a climate emergency in February with the aim of going carbon neutral by 2030.

Yatton's councillor Steve Bridger wants the authority to work alongside community groups.

He said: "We need to be more open to using local intelligence in the drawing up of what you might call neighbourhood management plans.

"In doing so I think we need to recognise we will be building on previous work of groups such as Wild Portishead and Backwell Environment Trust."

Cllr Nicola Holland said: "The benefits of re-wilding are huge to people's mental and physical health, we understand the needs for children to have wildlife, but they also need somewhere to play now.

Cllr Ann Harley added: "We have got to educate so people do not think they can litter."

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