Herefordshire Council has defended mowing flat a large road verge that was part of a habitat conservation scheme after a video of the aftermath was posted online.

The video, posted earlier this week to the Fownhope Village Facebook page, shows tractor mower tracks across the verge, on the B4224 southeast of the village, along with discarded signs indicating it was part of the Verging on Wild scheme.

This joint venture between the council, its public realm contractor Balfour Beatty, Herefordshire Wildlife Trust (HWT) and local volunteers, aims to manage the county’s most biodiverse road verges as miniature nature reserves.

The woman making the recording, who did not wish to be named, says in it: “Herefordshire Council, I despair. [This was] the most beautiful grass verge with a sign that quite clearly says do not cut yet verge managed for wildlife, but you have decimated the entire verge this morning.

“There were wild orchids here, this was a wildflower haven, brilliant for bees and butterflies. There were no safety or visual issues but you felt it necessary to cut it all. It is unbelievable.”


A Herefordshire Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to protecting the local environment and work closely with Verging On Wild to maintain roadside wildflower sites for the benefit of animal and plant life.

“Unfortunately on this occasion, some emergency cutting was required after a locality steward carried out an assessment following an enquiry by a member of public raising concerns over motorists’ visibility difficulties.”

HWT’s senior conservation manager Andrew Nixon said: “There is an agreement between Verging on Wild and Balfour Beatty to not cut certain verges that are good for wildlife and where there will be no safety issues if they are left uncut.

“The signs are installed at the those locations to remind the people cutting the verges they need to be left. They have been ignored at a handful of locations over the years.”

HWT chief executive Helen Stace said the video scenes were “really depressing and should not have happened”.

But comments on the video largely supported the council's actions. Phil Green commented: “You obviously don’t use this junction every day to turn right to go to work.

“As a parent of young girls driving there cars going to work I would like them to come home at night, not end up in an accident because you want to see pretty flowers.”