Sadness as Worthing road verge is mown: ‘We’re heartbroken, but we won’t stop fighting for wildflowers and bees’

Worthing Climate Action Network (WCAN) expressed its sadness this week after a road verge was mown.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 12:25 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:06 pm

It said the road verge in Goring Road, which was previously supported by West Sussex County Council as part of its Adopt a Verge scheme, was cut two months earlier than agreed.

Emma Cameron, a spokesman for WCAN, said last Thursday (July 15): “Our community road verge was mown today – it now looks like a desert.

“One of the team said he was all for flowers and bees and thought it should stay but was told to cut it.

Activists fighting to save the road verge. Picture: Worthing Climate Action Network

“We’re heartbroken, but we won’t stop fighting for wildflowers and bees.”

WCAN, in collaboration with XR Worthing began a ‘Wilding Worthing’ petition to mark No Mow May in Spring last year, asking Adur & Worthing Councils and the county council to stop mowing road verges so often and instead allow the wildflowers and grasses to grow.

When the petition reached 1,000 signatures last June, it was presented to Worthing Borough Council and was accepted.

Negotiations began with West Sussex Highways, with the first trial community road verge in Worthing being established in Goring Road.

The road verge now. Picture: Worthing Climate Action Network

Emma said: “The verge was established as part of the drive to address the biodiversity crisis, to provide food and habitat for pollinators and other creatures.

“Species of wildflowers recorded there include mallow, lesser knapweed, birdsfoot trefoil, clover, dandelions, autumn hawkbit, daisies, lesser cinquefoil, hoary cress and common yarrow.

“Many bees, butterflies and other insects, including dragonflies, have also been seen at the site.

“It is a successful and important project.”

The road verge previously. Picture: Worthing Climate Action Network

In response, a spokesman for the county council said: “The Community Road Verge scheme in Goring Road was one of 12 pilot projects where interested community groups came forward with requests to allow local verges to re-wild, so they could assess the impact on the biodiversity of the sites.

“Eleven out of the 12 sites have gone ahead without any significant issues.

“In the case of Goring Road, while some local engagement was undertaken by the community group before the scheme started, unfortunately it was not to the required extent.

“On that basis, we have discontinued this trial and returned the grass cutting to the normal schedule, with a cut having taken place last Thursday (July 15).

“However, this does not rule out the possibility of a future trial, provided there is full consultation with all the stakeholders involved, including Goring residents, residents’ groups, and local councillors.

“There will be a review of all the pilot schemes at the end of the summer. This will include how best to ensure key stakeholders are consulted should the initiative continue.”