Grass cutting season is underway and Somerset County Council’s contractors are out and about across the county helping to keep verges in check and road users safe.
Each year more than 9,400km of roadside verge is cut – that’s almost the distance from Taunton to Tokyo.
The operation presents a challenge for the Council’s Highways team as a balance must be found between promoting habitat creation and protecting wildlife, and the overall road safety of all road users.
Most highway verges are only cut to a width of one metre (1-swathe width), though some stretches can be cut back beyond this width if there is a need to improve visibility for motorists at specific junctions. As well as ensuring visibility this also helps the flow of water along road channels and provides a safe area for pedestrians where there is no pavement.
The cutting programme commenced in May and is due to be completed September, depending on the seasonal growing conditions. The routes in which experienced higher volumes of traffic are cut first.
The aim to protect wildlife on roadside verges, while maintaining road safety, consistent with the Somerset Highways Biodiversity Manual and the recently adopted Somerset Pollinator Action Plan, which can be found here: https://www.somerset.gov.uk/waste-planning-and-land/biodiversity/#Somerset-Pollinator-Action-Plan.
Councillor John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “Safety is the priority and the grass cutting programme is extremely important during the summer months to ensure visibility for road users. “However, we work hard to balance the need to keep people safe while aiming to protect and encourage wildlife as much as possible.
“Our teams have a timetable which covers the network, you can see this on our website, but if members of the public do spot an immediate problem caused by an overgrown verge, they can report it online.”
Residents can find out more about the 2021 programme, including maps showing which roads are included and the order of works, here – www.travelsomerset.co.uk/grass-cutting.
You can also find out about hedge cutting and treatment of noxious and invasive weeds.
If you need to report an overgrown verge or hedge you can do so here: www.somerset.gov.uk/roads-and-transport/report-an-overgrown-verge-or-hedge-on-the-road/