Road Verge Regime

Request

1. On the road verge network you are responsible for maintaining, are you or your services contractor implementing a mowing regime to benefit wild flowers?


a. If yes, can you outline your management practices (e.g. cutting verges later in the year, cutting them less often, collecting the arising's)?


b. If not, are you or your contractor planning on implementing one from 2021 or beyond?


2. If you or your contractors are implementing such a scheme, what has prompted you to do so (e.g. cost savings, reduced CO2 emissions, the impacts of the pandemic)?


a. What benefits, if any, have you seen?


b. What, if any, problems have you encountered?


3. If you or your contractors have not implemented one, what, if any, reasons are preventing you (e.g., safety concerns, lack of information, resident views)?


4. What is your approach to using glyphosate for weed control?

Decision

1. 

a. The answer to this isn't a yes or no. As the Highway Authority for Lincolnshire, Lincolnshire County Council (LCC) has a statutory duty to ensure the safety of the highway and this includes the cutting of grass verges where grass impedes visibility at road junctions or through bends. Then also cut a 1.1m width alongside the road edge in rural areas for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users to use where there are no footways. Currently our policy is to cut all verges three times annually.

The cuttings are not removed. LCC do not actually cut all of the verges as we have arrangements in place in more 'urban' areas with over 100 Parish and District Councils so that they cut them on our behalf and many residents, farmers and other local businesses also cut the verges as they want to maintain those adjacent to their land.

LCC do acknowledge though that appropriate verge management does provide a key opportunity for biodiversity conservation and have worked with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust for many years to try to accommodate this within our verge management. This has led to several initiatives including the introduction of 65 Roadside Nature Reserves and 159 new Local Wildlife Sites in the County. These have been identified as the stretches of road verge most important for nature conservation. They form a network of wildflower-rich habitat within our highway verges. More information on their management can be found on the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website.

b. At present there are no changes proposed to our current maintenance regime.

2. 

a. Not Applicable

b. Not Applicable

3. In previous years, LCC have tried changing the standard maintenance regime by reducing the number of cuts to two and adjusting the timing but this was not continued due to safety concerns (lack of visibility) and complaints from residents.

4. When undertaking weed killing, LCC only treats the areas that are required to be treated and the amount and frequency of treatment is kept as low as reasonably practicable in order to ensure the effective control of weeds (twice per year). Within the highway, currently use non-residual weed killers based on the active ingredient glyphosate.

Glyphosate is only effective when in direct contact with the weeds and, on contact with soil, breaks down into harmless substances. Accordingly, Glyphosate is authorised to be used on areas open to the public. The application of the herbicide by the Council is by a controlled droplet application with the equipment used ensuring drift does not occur during the process. It is not blanket sprayed over areas of footpath and our process ensures the amount of chemical used is limited to an absolute minimum.

The herbicide is applied by trained and fully NPTC (National Proficiency Tests Council) certificated operators. Then treat any weeds that are present on footways and cycle tracks, in kerb channels, including outlet mouths and gully gratings, around all obstructions, street furniture, tree bases, and traffic islands, on the back edge of the footway abutting walls and on all areas of
block paved carriageways that are part of the adopted highway. This is an essential part of the preventative maintenance regime.

Reference number
FOI1969
Date request received
27 October 2020
Date of decision
18 November 2020