Verdant verges brighten drivers' day

This is an archived press release

Thursday 19 July 2007

19 July 2007

Verdant verges brighten drivers' day

Roadside riots of colour have blossomed in the Peak District this year thanks to Road Verge Reserves brightening up many routes in Derbyshire.

The 35 Road Verge Reserves, with their distinctive green-and-white signs, have been allowed to grow rich in wild flowers, giving travellers a vivid reminder of the wildlife value of the countryside.

They are also a remarkable example of local authorities working together with conservationists to help save declining native wildlife.

On one stretch alone, near Owler Bar between Baslow and Sheffield, motorists have been greeted by nearly 130 different plant species - including 500 wild orchids.

Derbyshire County Council, North East Derbyshire District Council, the Peak District National Park Authority and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust all agreed where verge-cutting should be delayed until the wild flowers had set their seeds.

Local residents identified many of the verges, on both main roads and green lanes, as potential reserves. Some residents are also involved in surveying, monitoring and managing the wildflowers, clearing scrub or bracken to allow wild flowers to flourish.

Plants that have been declining for over 50 years - including meadow cranesbill, melancholy thistle, Nottingham catchfly and stag’s horn clubmoss - have found a home on the reserves, as well as small mammals, butterflies and birds.

Visiting Owler Bar with project-partners, National Park Authority Member Irene Ratcliffe said: This magnificent sight proves that road verges provide excellent habitats if they’re sensitively managed.

It is amazing to see such biodiversity - including a profusion of orchids growing on gritstone, which has only happened because of their proximity to limestone chippings from the road.

The National Park Authority is delighted to be part of such a valuable partnership and hope that these attractive wildlife corridors can be extended across the county.”

Peter Riggott, Derbyshire County Council cabinet support member for highways, said: This is a fantastic achievement, and it’s great partnership-working. We hope to work further with the National Park Authority and North East Derbyshire so that it can continue into the future.”

And Graham Baxter, NE Derbyshire District Council leader, fully supported the co-operative venture: These plants are obviously flourishing - it’s a vivid example of of joined-up working for the benefit of the environment,” he said.

This is an archived press release

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