Calls for 'balance' between safety and biodiversity after verges are cut

James Lister, from Garvestone, near Dereham, is among those who wants to see grass verges left alone for insects and wildlife

James Lister, from Garvestone, near Dereham, is among those who wants to see grass verges left alone for insects and wildlife - Credit: Archant/James Lister

Calls have been made to strike a balance between road safety and biodiversity after dozens of grass verges were cut across Breckland. 

A number of green spaces had been left to grow during May, prompting frustration among residents that roads were untidy or even dangerous for drivers. 

Swanton Morley was among the communities affected, with its parish council blaming Norfolk County Council for "ceasing its contract" with Breckland Council (via its contractor, Serco). 

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham.

Uncut grass verges in Middlemarch Road, Toftwood, pictured in early June 2022 - Credit: Danielle Booden

Action has, however, been taken in recent days to remedy the issue.

But it has not pleased everyone, with some environmentalists arguing that verges have been cut indiscriminately - with no consideration for thriving habitats. 

A spokesman for NCC said the authority would only ever cut verges for safety reasons. 

James Lister, who lives in Garvestone, near Dereham, and regularly takes part in local litter picks, claimed it was crucial to find the right balance. 

James Lister, who lives in Garvestone, near Dereham

James Lister, who lives in Garvestone, near Dereham - Credit: James Lister

"I agree to verges being cut in certain places, like at dangerous junctions," said Mr Lister. 

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"I have been at some where, because they are so overgrown, it is really difficult to see and cars are having to push right out into the road.

"They should be cut within a certain distance of junctions, but everywhere else should be left alone. It is massively important for biodiversity and the insect population."

The 47-year-old, a member of the Dereham Community Litter Pick Group, argued that a more careful approach needed to be taken in future. 

Uncut grass verges on Middlemarch Road in Dereham. Picture: Danielle Booden

Middlemarch Road in Toftwood pictured in early June 2022 - Credit: Danielle Booden

"My personal view is that we need to maintain safety as well as habitats," he added.

"There is a balance I feel can be reached, where we make things safe and look after wildlife, but things seem to go from one extreme to another. 

"With money constraints it is not easy for councils, but surely it's a money saver to cut less. When they cut right into the hedge and all the way into ditches, I just don't get the need for it."

The NCC spokesman added: "Up to around one metre of verge from the edge of the road is cut in most areas, with wider areas around corners and junctions cut to make sure visibility is maintained.

“However, we do seek to balance safety with nature. There are 112 roadside nature reserves in Norfolk, with 188 more on the way to help boost biodiversity."