Council at the cutting edge as verge works start

This year’s programme of verge cutting is getting underway as the county gears up for the main tourist season.

Vital grass cutting along highway verges will be taking place across Northumberland over the coming weeks.

Each year over 7,000 km of verges are cut during the summer months. Last year this was done more quickly than in previous years and again in 2018 it’s the council’s aim to have cut all the verges once by late July or early August as this will enable a second cut of key junctions and other areas.

The work is vital  to ensure that vegetation does not restrict visibility for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. In addition to the road safety benefits, these works also improve the look of an area and keeps the network in better condition by preventing plants taking hold on the side of roads.

Once again the council is leasing a tractor with special cutting equipment over the summer and has bought another machine to ensure that it completes all scheduled cuts without delay.

There are a small number of verges that will be left intentionally uncut to maintain flower-rich habitats in specific areas of interest and these will be cut later in the season.

The verge works complement the weed treatment programme which is in full swing in the county’s towns and villages, where the County Council is investing £125,000 in improving its coverage.

In recent years most weed spraying treatments have been contracted out, this year the council is employing ten extra staff to ensure the in house teams have the capacity to undertake the work themselves.

For the first time the council will be adding a harmless blue coloured dye to the treatment so the public can see for themselves where has been treated.

Councillor Glen Sanderson, Cabinet Member for Environment and Local Services, said: "It is really important to maintain our streets and roads efficiently so our county looks and feels well kept. Additionally, our grass verges need to be kept in good order to help prevent accidents.

“However, we have also worked with conservation groups and others to identify environmentally important grass verges and we now leave a number uncut until the autumn."
 
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