Although Waverley Borough Council is, once again, supporting the No Mow May campaign, following feedback from residents last year, only highway verges and recreational areas will be left uncut. Sight lines on verges, play facilities and paths will, however, still be cut.
The campaign, which is organised by wild plant conservation charity Plantlife, encourages people to support wildlife and boost pollination by leaving some of its greenspaces to grow across the borough throughout May. The council is also encouraging residents, where possible, to do similar with their lawns.
In response to resident’s feedback, and in order to better balance the needs of residents with supporting biodiversity, there will be some changes this year. Instead of suspending mowing across all of Waverley’s parks and open spaces, housing sites, amenity areas and verges, this year, the council will concentrate solely on highway verges and recreational areas. Sight lines on verges, play facilities and paths will, however, still be cut.
The grass cutting schedules for these areas have already been reduced and the council’s maintenance contractor Continental Landscapes Ltd will be trialling new grass cutting machinery to support this during the year.
In addition to trials of non-pesticide weed control in the borough, which has meant a successful 75% reduction in the use of pesticides over the last three years, and as part of the council’s pesticide policy and action plan, there will be manual removal of weeds from hard surfaces, playgrounds and other areas rather than the use of a pesticide.
Councillor Kika Mirylees, Portfolio Holder for Health, Wellbeing, Parks and Leisure, said:
“This is a fantastic initiative which we are happy to support again but it was important to take on board residents’ feedback from last year. Although many people were happy with the amount of greenspace that was left uncut, others felt it was a little excessive in places.
“As a council working towards becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, one of our pledges was to review our grass cutting regime and promote rewilding Hopefully, by reducing the areas where we suspend mowing, people will be satisfied, but it will also still give some of our greenspaces time to flourish and boost the numbers of wild flowers that provide valuable food for pollinators. Everyone can get involved, whether that is locking up the mower for the month, or just leaving a patch of lawn uncut.”
Waverley Borough Council has already enhanced a number of areas over the past year, including increasing meadow and wildflower areas to over 183,000 m2 in total since 2018/19 to improve biodiversity and help pollinators - that’s over 45 acres or 24 football pitches or 146 Olympic size swimming pools, it’s bigger than the grounds of Buckingham Palace and has the potential to be home to millions of insects.
In addition, the council’s grounds maintenance contractor Continental Landscapes Ltd uses three electric vehicles and a hybrid vehicle to help deliver the grounds maintenance contract for Waverley, meaning lower vehicle emissions and less noise when undertaking maintenance. All grass cuttings and prunings collected by Continental are composted and used on council sites with the surplus offered to local allotments and community gardens.
Sight lines on verges, play facilities and paths will still be cut.
Want to nominate a highway verge to be left uncut?
Residents who wish to nominate highway verges in their area to be left uncut and encourage a more biodiverse verge can contact Surrey County Council, who are actively supporting the Blue Campaign which is aiming to increase biodiversity in grass verges. Areas which are chosen are identified with a blue heart and the area will not be cut when grass teams are in the area, however a final end of season cut will be made towards the end of the year.