Grass-cutting season is here and Somerset County Council will again be cutting more than 9,400km of roadside verge to help keep drivers safe – that’s the distance from Taunton to Sao Paulo.
Somerset County Council cuts roadside verges for safety purposes – to preserve visibility, provide space for pedestrians where there is no pavement, and improve the flow of water along road channels.
However, the Council is also committed to protecting wildlife where this does not conflict with safety requirements. In late 2018 the Council updated its Somerset Pollinator Action Plan which seeks to protect and enhance the amount and quality of pollinator habitat across the county.
This has led to a review of the summer grass cutting operation and for 2019 only a single 1m swathe of verge will be cut, except on specific bends and at junctions where increased visibility is required. This will protect approximately an additional 3km sq of highway verge for wildlife – that’s an area roughly the size of 191 Somerset County Cricket Cub pitches!
A spokesman for Somerset County Council said: “Safety is always our priority but we’re also committed to protecting wildlife where we can. We’ve reviewed our summer grass-cutting programme and believe we can reduce the amount of grass cut, saving money and preserving vital habitat for wildlife without impacting on safety.
“Of course if you do spot a hazard caused by an overgrown verge then please report it to us online so we can take action.”
Also new for 2019 is the use of a new remote controlled mower – affectionately nicknamed ‘Robochop’. This allows operatives to work safely away from the highway and also means reduced disruption for road users as in many locations there is no longer a need for lane closures or slow moving tractors in the road. You can see a short video of Robochop in action at https://youtu.be/bcQ7GFhaJlY.
Another innovation is a new online mapping feature which allows you to keep track of the summer grass cutting programme as it progresses. This can be found at www.travelsomerset.co.uk/
Stay up to date with Somerset County Council’s highways team by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.