by adamboyden on 8 August, 2020
Some residents have raised concerns about areas of grass not being cut.
During the coronavirus restrictions, Mendip District Council cut back on the amount of grass cutting in areas under its management, including due to the need to keep maintenance teams safe. In April the council announced the resumption of grass cutting on large public open spaces to help people exercise safely (see here). Grass cutting resumed fully on 15 June, and since then Mendip’s contractor IdVerde has been working across the district to cut any areas that were not maintained. Some areas have taken longer than I would have hoped (including the roadside strip along Bath Road and Selwood Crescent, which was cut last week) but there has been a backlog of work, so thank you for your patience.
Alongside the resumption of grass cutting, Mendip District Council also took the opportunity to leave some areas to naturally ‘rewild’, to attempt to enhance wildlife and biodiversity (and reduce carbon emissions from the use of vehicles and machinery) by reducing the frequency of grass cutting to twice a year (an ‘eco cut’) in selected areas. These areas have been determined by the Neighbourhood Services team based on their location, surrounding safety implications and the visual effects of the area receiving reduced cuts. The proposal was explained in my June newsletter here, the decision report is here, and I have a fuller report available on request. The decision was part of the cross-party Climate and Ecological Emergency Group (CEEG) action plan, as one of the actions is to ‘protect our local ecology and find ways to enhance biodiversity’. It is expected that it would take two or three years to establish a more biodiverse and visually attractive flora in the areas affected. This follows a discussion on reduced grass cutting and the need to increase habitat for pollinators including bees in the district, at a Cabinet meeting last September.
An online map is now available at https://maps.mendip.gov.uk/ which shows the areas owned or maintained by MDC and areas identified for rewilding. From this page you can type in the postcode (or road), of the area you are querying. Clicking on the My Maps button should take you to a map, from where you can open the drop-down menu on the side labelled Environment and Planning (by clicking the +), and tick the boxes for Grounds Maintenance, MDC Land, and ‘Wild Flower Areas’ (proposed areas for rewilding). In our area, the rewilding areas include on the map:
This to some extent mimics the approach Frome Town Council have successfully taken with some areas under their control, including parts of the Old Showfield and Rodden Meadow, which have ‘Wild About Frome’ posts on, so you can see where their rewilding policy applies to – please see here.
Where specific areas are under review or subject to critical feedback from local residents, I am hoping that a ‘best of both worlds’ solution can be found that leaves some areas wilder for ecological reasons, but keeps some areas shorter for recreational use or visual reasons.
Please let me and Drew know if you have any queries or concerns – emails email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. MDC’s Neighbourhood Services team will also welcome any comments people have, by email to email@example.com Comments