Councils urged to adopt bee-friendly grass-cutting and introduce pollinator action plans

25th July 2018
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Councils are being urged by Friends of the Earth and Buglife to do more to help Britain’s bees after a survey found that only two English county councils have comprehensive pollinator action plans in place.

Friends of the Earth and Buglife contacted 27 English county councils to survey whether they had pollinator action plans in place. Of the 19 who replied two have plans in place (Devon and Dorset). Hampshire, Kent, Worcestershire and Somerset are also in the process of drawing up plans.

Other councils also have pollinator action plans, including Cornwall Council (a unitary authority) Newcastle City Council, North Tyneside Metropolitan Council, Oxford City Council and Monmouthshire County Council.

Dr Annabel King, Senior Ecologist at Dorset County Council said:

We are very proud to be one of the first local authorities to produce and implement a pollinator action plan. The plan is specifically aimed at helping all pollinators, including bees, butterflies and moths, numbers of which have declined severely in the last 50 years.

The plan has enabled us to make significant savings – we save around £93k a year by only cutting rural road verges when needed, allowing wildflowers and grasses to flower and set seed.

A number of local authorities are also taking steps to help pollinators, such as boosting habitats by planting wildflowers, even though they don’t currently have plans to introduce pollinator action plans.

There has been huge public support for councils to be doing more to help protect bees and although some councils are stepping in the right direction there is still more that can be done.

Buglife and Friends of the Earth have produced a comprehensive guidefor councils setting out policies that would help pollinators in their area. Habitat loss is a major contributor towards pollinator decline, and the guide includes easy, cost-effective measures to protect and restore pollinator-friendly habitats in their local areas.

Policies such as cutting areas of grass less frequently in parks and roadside verges to allow wild flowers to grow aren’t just good for bees – they can save councils thousands of pounds too.

Dorset County Council saves around £93,000 a year by only cutting rural road verges when needed, Burnley Borough Council estimates that it saves around £60,000 per annum from cutting back on grass-cutting to help pollinators, and Monmouthshire County Council estimates that the saving made from a reduction in highway verge mowing is approximately £35,000 each year.

Friends of the Earth bee campaigner Nick Rau said:

Councils have an important role to play in protecting our bees and other pollinators.

But although many local authorities are taking steps to help our under-threat bees, only a handful have so far introduced comprehensive action plans to protect them.

Measures such as allowing patches of grass to grow longer in parks and on road verges aren’t just good news for pollinators; they can save money for local councils too.

From boosting precious wildlife habitat to encouraging residents to take action, our handy guide for local authorities sets out the action councils can take to help save Britain’s bees.