Highways England is is to change in the way it improves roads, to ‘breathe new life and colour into the verges and land around the country’s motorways and major roads.’ It will cover hundreds of miles to creating the type of soils on the verges and roadsides which encourage wildflower growth.
More fertile areas with lots of topsoil – rich in potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen – favour aggressive grasses, dock and nettle, all fast-growing plants that can out-compete delicate wildflowers for water, nutrients, space and light.
On all major schemes, contractors are instructed to follow a new Low Nutrient Grasslands policy aimed at keeping away the ‘bullying’ plant species which love high nutrient soil, and allowing wildflowers to thrive, creating vital habitat for insects and other wildlife.
Highways England Environmental Advisor Ben Hewlett said: “Our new policy means we’ll create more biodiverse new grasslands as standard. As 97% of all species rich grasslands have been lost in the last century, it is great to think our construction design standards could create substantial areas of biodiverse grasslands, stretching throughout England.
“The increase in wildflowers and wider biodiversity should also provide some impressive visual displays, and help to connect people with nature and improve the wellbeing of millions of people using our roads every day