As a local authority, Elmbridge manages over 120 green open spaces including large areas of grassland for the enjoyment and use of the community.
As part of our climate emergency response and with increased pressures on resources, we are looking at different ways to manage our local green spaces and increase opportunities for biodiversity. This means we might make changes to our grass cutting regime.
This year, we are trialling a new grass verge management approach on a section of Hampton Court Way between Thames Ditton and Molesey. We will leave the grass verges uncut until autumn to create a mini green highway. This will encourage new habitats and boost biodiversity. Grass verges will look a bit untidy while natural grass and local wildflowers grow. You won’t see a display of ‘landscape-style’ colourful wildflowers but instead native wildflowers in keeping with the ground and soil conditions. The area will be monitored to ensure road safety and measure success.
We know that about third of all species of wild bees, bumblebees and hoverflies are in decline due to habitat loss. They are important pollinators which play a key role in sustaining our local flora and fauna. Over the last years, we have been introducing wild meadow areas in local parks to sustain wildlife and insects. We are keen to extend these initiatives across the borough.
Councillor Janet Turner, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said, “We are committed to supporting our climate emergency response. A way to reduce our carbon footprint is to look at how we manage green spaces. Changing our grass-cutting regime would work towards building biodiversity and also help to reduce our maintenance costs. However, residents’ views on this matter are important to us as this will affect Elmbridge’s landscape. The trial on Hampton Court Way is only one example of how we could change the service while fulfilling our statutory obligations.”
Councillor Mary Marshall, Portfolio Holder of the Environment, said: “I’m fully supportive of this initiative and trial and it will show how we can improve biodiversity, increase natural propagation and habitats for our wildlife. It’s exciting to see this idea coming to fruition and I very much hope it’s successful in promoting future corridors throughout Elmbridge.”
If the trial is a success, we will determine further trial areas to test the feasibility of the new grass management approach and to evaluate if the scheme can be extended across other sites in the borough.