Tuesday 19 April 2011

Frustrated with local council

I'm feeling a bit frustrated with local government policies and bureaucracy in general at the moment.

Last week, I went for a lovely walk along the banks of the River Severn just outside Worcester. It was a beautiful sunny day and I felt blessed to have such a habitat rich environment on my doorstep. It supports such an amazing range of flora and fauna and I notice something new every single time I walk there.

On this particular day I saw at least 5 different species of bumblebee, numerous different solitary mining bees and more honey bees than I ever see on the nearby Malvern Hills. So...definitely an important habitat for bees!

There were dozens of wild flowers coming into bloom; including Comfrey, Jacob's Ladder, Lady's Smock and White Campion - and the Willows (too many different varieties to list here) were alive with the sound of bird song. As well as the Woodpeckers, Robins, Blackbirds and Great Tits I usually see or hear when I'm walking this path, I also heard Black Caps, White Throats, Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers. But the icing on the cake was spotting this stunning butterfly (above) who kept perfectly still for at least ten minutes whilst I photographed her from every possible angle. I had no idea at the time what species she was, but was absolutely enchanted by her. I discovered later that she was a female Orange Tip and that the Cuckoo Flower  she was sitting on (sometimes known as Lady's Smock) is one of her favourite sources of food.

I came home brimming over with the joys of nature and spent a few happy hours thumbing through my bird/butterfly/wild flower books trying to identify everything I'd seen and heard.

The very next day I heard that the council had come along and strimmed the verges alongside the river path and that the little patch of Lady's Smock where the Orange Tip had been feeding, along with many of the other wild flowers I'd seen, had been completely wiped out.

Ok, so the council have a duty to maintain this public footpath for human access, but where's the balance? Why no moderation? Do the council not recognise the ecological importance of this particular habitat? Perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the majority of the area they strimmed was set well back from the footpath and was causing absolutely no problems whatsoever to human walkers. It's not as if this was an area overgrown with brambles and nettles; it was a beautiful wildlife rich verge - and now it is no more.

The grasses and wild flowers will of course grow back, but as soon as they do they will be strimmed again. In the mean time, food will be more scarce for local fauna.

We have lost 97% of our grassland and wild flower meadows since the 1940s so surely we should be protecting what little remains rather than strimming it to within an inch of it's existence...

I'm going to contact Worcsestershire Council to see if I can find out more about their 'strimming' policy, but in the mean time here are a few useful links for anyone who wants to know more about our ever diminishing grasslands, wildflowers and butterflies ....

The Grassland Trust - http://www.grasslands-trust.org/

Buglife - http://www.buglife.org.uk/

Butterfly identification - http://www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/index.php


  1. I totally agree with you, they could save a lot of money by not strimming but most of all save wildlife!! The money they save could keep the allotments going. The whole government and council need to change their thought process. If they didn't strim they could run nature walks with wildlife and wildflower ID talks and make people aware. I do feel that there is a slow change in the general public, I'm just waiting for the change up top.

  2. A sad thing to see. If you are lucky enough to see any protected species it is worth reporting as it can stop the random strimming.

  3. We had something similar when Defra decided to cut down all the hedges that the sparrows roosted in. Apparently the hedges were in the way of the twitchers walking along the sea wall!!!!

  4. Good Bee, Bad Council :D
    thought you might like my machinima film the butterfly's tale~
    Bright Blessings
    elf ~

  5. I LOVE your film 'the butterfly's tale'!!! In fact....I posted it on my facebook page earlier this morning :)

    Bright blessings to you too talented elf Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

  6. Lovely photo. Sounds like a case of contracting out "countryside management" and a badly written contract. Do update the post with your findings. If you don't get the answers you need, you can try asking via a freedom of information request.

  7. It's the same story here in Carmarthenshire. They have regularly cut the grass on a roundabout where a very rare orchid grows - then there is a piece in the paper bemoaning the fact - and WHY cut the stunning strip of Ox-eye daisies and other wild flowers growing down the centre of the A40 past Carmarthen? They don't affect traffic visibility AT ALL as it's a dual carriageway. This job takes about 10 large warning vehicles to protect two guys with strimmers. MADNESS - and a loss of SUCH beauty. All our verges are scalped too.

    My current anger is the farming neighbour who insists on trimming his hedges in May - when they are full of nesting birds - because he likes his place "tidy".

    And then there is the graveyard for a chapel near to us, which used to truly be God's Acre at this time of year, as it was an acre of wild Columbines and absolutely stunning. Then someone on the Chapel committee decided that it looked untidy or something, and it is now mown in May . . . It makes my heart bleed.