Crash concerns raised over reduced cuts to Norfolk verges

Uncut verges and hedgerows allowing nature to take over along country roads and lanes. Picture: DENI

Concerns have been raised over reduced cutting of grass verges. - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Concerns have been raised that less frequent cutting of Norfolk's grass verges could contribute to road crashes.

But council bosses say that a move to change how often roadside verges are cut is balanced with the need for road safety.

Cuts in urban areas have already been reduced from five to four and rural cuts on C and unclassified roads has gone down to one cut.

It remains at two cuts on A and B roads, but the council wants to encourage the creation of more roadside nature reserves - which are cut separately from the usual programme.

One of the 112 roadside nature reserves in Norfolk. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Council bosses want to create more Roadside Nature Reserves in Norfolk. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Norfolk County Council says such roadside reserves can be habitats for plants and wildlife and fits with the council's pollinator plan - to protect insects such as bees, which play a crucial role in pollination.

The council's Greenways to Greenspaces proposals to increase the number of such roadside reserves from 112 to 300 and to develop a new verge management policy were discussed at a meeting of the council's infrastructure and development committee on Wednesday, July 14.

Tony White, Conservative candidate for Downham Market. Pic: Norfolk Conservatives.

Tony White, Conservative county councillor for Downham Market. - Credit: Norfolk Conservatives

But Tony White, Conservative councillor for Downham Market, was worried about the potential for overgrown verges making it harder for drivers to see.

He said: "I travel a lot in the Fen area and the thing is, we are getting a lot of near misses now.

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"I am hoping we do not get the one which is not a near miss."

Mr White also said he did not want to see ragwort allowed to grow on verges, saying farmers spend a lot of money to prevent that plant getting on to fields.

Grahame Bygrave, the council's director of highways and waste, said there was a balance to be struck between road safety and the environment and that verges at junctions to ensure visibility.

Conservative committee chairman Barry Stone told Mr White that the council wanted to encourage parish councils to do more of the cutting.

But Mr White said parish councils he had spoken to felt that should be the responsibility of the county council.

Barry Stone, Norfolk county councillor. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Barry Stone, Norfolk county councillor. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Mr Stone said: "We have to try to educate the population to realise that environmental issues are important and they are not going to go away."

The committee did agree the proposals, but Mr White voted against the elements around verges.