Adam Boyden

Mendip District Councillor for Frome College ward and Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Somerton & Frome Learn more

Grass cutting and rewilding

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:

  • west side of Bath Road, between Northcote Crescent and Grange Road (this area is under review following feedback from local residents);
  • Mendip Drive, to the south east of Selwood Crescent;
  • Packsaddle Way, next to (north of) the play park;
  • north side of Stonebridge Drive between the Sports & Fitness Centre and Beech Court;
  • green spaces between Forest Road, Sycamore Drive/ Chestnut Close, Holly Court and Wedmore Close;
  • the Brunel Way open space and other green spaces between there and Charterhouse Drive, Collett Way, Churchward Drive and Dean Close (the Brunel Way open space is under review following feedback from residents);
  • I understand the green corridor (along the stream and footpaths) between the Old Showfield, Linnet Way, Lime Close and Forest Road is also being treated as a rewilding area, but is not yet on the map. I am asking for this to be corrected.

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 cllr.boyden@mendip.gov.uk, cllr.gardner@mendip.gov.uk. MDC’s Neighbourhood Services team will also welcome any comments people have, by email to neighbourhoodservices@mendip.gov.uk.

   2 Comments

2 Responses

  1. Wendy says:

    I like many others I am sure feel that the so say ‘green corridors’ look a mess. Bees and wildlife enjoyed these areas just as much when they were kept cut and tidy. The appearance is shabby, the maintenance if the paths either side of the bridge and stream are in disrepair having been left so long. The hedges and nettles and weeds narrow the pathways and darken what little lighting is there. It’s unsafe. Trees are large overgrown and hinder the lighting from illuminating the pathways. Yes it’s fair to say covid had some Part to play in delaying cutting etc BUT feel that the council had lost their way even before with ideas for cost cutting under the umbrella of bio-diversity. If won’t be long before there is a Alain made for a injury sustained whilst trying to navigate the dark overgrown pathways. We have taken it upon ourselves to strim the nettles along the side path leading from linnet way to the show ground after Listening tirelessly to people getting stung ( aa we sit overlooking the path in our garden). I really feel that you needs to rethink your priorities !!

    • adamboyden says:

      Wendy, thanks for getting in touch. I asked MDC Neighbourhood Services to ensure contractors prioritise keeping this footpath accessible. The whole area was cut recently. I agree this could have been managed better this year. Access, and health and safety should always be a priority.

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