Mepal Parish Council

Biodiversity of the Brick Lane Verge

At 1st glance with pre biodiversity-crisis glasses on, the verge bordering the field on Brick Lane could be seen as ‘untidy’. But delve deeper and it’s actually a revelation. Hosting an amazing number of plant species, which will only improve over the coming years with the right management, an initial survey kindly undertaken by a knowledgable Mepal resident, identified 32 different plant species including 7 of the top 12 important pollinators species in this most unpromising scrap of land. A brief 30 min site visit in June identified the following plants not including the hedge & tree species: Oxeye Daisy, Buttercup, Plantain (both narrow & broad leaved), Hog Weed, Cow Parsley, Rose Bay willow herb, Field Balm (several large patches of purple flowers), Dog Rose, Queen Anne’s Lace (sadly recently cut back), Ragwort, Field Poppy, a type of Hemp Nettle, Red Clover, White Clover, Cut Leaved Cranesbill, Numerous species of grass, Comfrey, Spear Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Nettle, Dandelion, Bramble, Hemlock, Oil seed rape, Daisy, Self Heal, Musk Mallow, Garlic Mustard, Cinquefoil, another type of Willow Herb & Birds Foot Trefoil.


According to Plantlife there are over 313,000 miles of rural road verge in the UK. This is equal to half of our remaining flower-rich grasslands and meadows. If their management guidelines were followed on all UK verges, we could enjoy an estimated 400 billion more wild flowers, plus all the associated life these flowers support. One mile of flower-rich verge can produce 20kg of nectar sugar per year, enough to feed millions of pollinators’.

The verge cutting by the Parish Council in Mepal took place in late March/early April, when the weather allowed for this, and the next scheduled cut for the verges will be in September/ October. Changes to how roadside verges are maintained was implemented to help boost wildlife habitats and plant species across Mepal/ Cambridgeshire to protect wildflowers and improve wildlife corridors. Whilst it is disappointing that these efforts are not recognised, supported or appreciated by everyone in the village, we have to accept that not everyone views things in the same way. We would just ask that any criticism made is not made personal and does not target individuals and definitely is not abusive in terms of the language used.

These wildlife corridors, which are areas of land that connect species with habitats, will provide living spaces for many species, with a particular focus on pollinators such as bees. Environmental organisations including Plantlife, the Butterfly Conservation Trust and Parish/District and County Councils are all working in conjunction with each other to deliver this initiative. We as a Parish Council are committed to taking an environmentally friendly approach across our work and this is another way we can help support biodiversity in Mepal and Cambridgeshire. Maintaining safety of road users and footpath safety for pedestrians remains a top priority for the Parish Council and more cuts will be carried out in areas which have bends in the road or where vision may be blocked.  We carry out weekly safety inspections so we are on top of this.

Whilst we could cut maybe once every 4 weeks to a height of 6cm ( ‘The Buzz Cut for Biodiversity’ ), this would increase carbon emissions, time, & labour costs and so the decision in 2020 was to follow the Cambridge County Council guidelines and cut only twice per year. This is under regular review but every tiny patch of land that supports nature really does add up across the country, and since our very survival depends on functioning natural eco systems, it couldn’t be more important to view our verges through a new lens.

Back to top