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Warning Against Cutting Grass Verges

Published Monday, 10 June 2013

Intensive grass verge cutting is putting wildlife at risk and destroying biodiversity sites, countryside bosses have warned.

Now Ribble Valley residents and landowners are being asked to stop and think before they cut and slash grass verges.

Grass verges make a significant contribution to biodiversity, providing an important refuge for flora and fauna.

Ribble Valley Borough Council's countryside officer, David Hewitt, said: "There are a number of threats to roadside verges, one of which is severe and intensive grass cutting in the mistaken belief that it makes the countryside look more attractive.

"But some verges need to be left to grow and not mown like a garden. Wildflowers need to flower and seed before they are cut back and in some places young birds use verges to forage for food.

"We are concerned at the number of verges that are being chopped with impunity and are asking landowners to respect those that are biological heritage sites."

Biological heritage sites have the potential to make a significant contribution to biodiversity and, although not directly protected by law, many of the species they harbour are.

There are over 1,200 biological heritage sites in Lancashire covering 33,000 hectares of land and 10 per cent of the county area.

They include ancient woodland, species-rich grassland and bogs, as well as ancient hedges and grass verges, many of which provide a refuge for rare and threatened plants and animals.

Now Ribble Valley Borough Council has joined forces with the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Lancashire County Council and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds to ensure the sites are correctly managed.

They have produced guidelines outlined which sites, including grass verges, have biological heritage site status and therefore cannot be cut without permission.

"The agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of partnership working in delivering the objectives of the Forest of Bowland AONB Management Plan and Lancashire Diversity Action Plan," David Hewitt added.

Further information about which sites in Ribble Valley are protected and how to go about cutting them is available from Ribble Valley Borough Council's countryside officer, David Hewitt, on 01200 414505.

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