Green space sprayed with herbicide

Road verge Market Drayton

Several people have contacted Shropshire Wildlife Trust, distressed about local roadside verges and parts of green space being sprayed with herbicide by local council operatives.

Photos sent in from Market Drayton show long strips of yellowed grass between the kerb and a hedgerow along a street. A local woman said:

“My two daughters are very upset that the council sprayed all the verges with weed killer last week. We have been busy spotting wildlife and wildflowers on our daily walks. We recently downloaded the Seek app so that they could identify and learn the plants in our local patch.

Road verge

Road verge Market Drayton

On a walk to the River Tern we noticed lots of lovely plants in the hedgerow along Maple Close and Sherwood Crescent that were new ones they hadn't seen on other walks. We went back to identify them and the children were most upset to find they had been strimmed and sprayed and it was now just an ugly strip of yellow dead grass and bare soil. They then noticed that lots of other verges and around the bases of the trees and edges of the field in the greenspace in front of our house had also been sprayed.”

Tree structure

Sculpture in Oswestry

Trees, benches, picnic tables, play structures and a sculpture have also been ringed with herbicide in Oswestry’s Wilfred Owen Green. “The areas selected for spraying may be hard to reach with a lawn-mower. However, we do not see why this vegetation is considered a problem. With insect populations in steep decline, leaving grass and wildflowers to grow is to be encouraged. Bees, hoverflies, butterflies and many other insects flourish in these areas,” said Stuart Edmunds of Shropshire Wildlife Trust.

Another problem for road verge wildlife is an emphasis on tidiness and continuous mowing. Spring flowers, such as cowslips and campion, are being cut down just as they come into bloom.

Campion road verge

“Road verges can play a vital role in connecting wild places, providing habitat for small mammals and nectar and pollen for insects. We urge Shropshire Council to adopt a wildlife-friendly mowing schedule, that allows plants to grow and set seed before cutting takes place.

‘Nature needs all the help it can get,’ said Stuart. ‘We need to adopt wildlife-friendly grassland management on road verges, in parks and in our gardens. Who would not be glad to see more butterflies, blue tits, robins and song thrushes if we were to do this?’