Pioneering policy change to support wildlife and well-being
Flintshire County Council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet have supported changes to the county wide grass cutting policy, which outlines how the council manages its grassland estate.
Over the last few years, the council has been introducing wildflower spaces and areas of reduced mow assisted by Welsh Government grant funding to support nature and the well-being of our communities. Community response has been overwhelmingly positive about these changes.
A more diverse grassland estate provides multiple benefits including visual and noise barriers along our roads, increased pollution and water absorption, improved carbon storage and a home and food source for our wildlife.
Councillors attended a Streetscene and Biodiversity workshop earlier this year to find out more about local biodiversity loss, the impacts of herbicide use and opportunities for changes in practice.
In a significant step, the Environment Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet supported policy changes, which will allow for the extension of reduced mow, as well as cut and collect management beyond our wildflower sites. The policy now contains steps to support nature in each of the areas it covers whilst prioritising road user safety and ensuring that our sites look intentional through the use of mown borders, paths and signage where needed.
With only 2% of traditional grassland habitats left in the UK, this step has the potential to create important habitat throughout the county, supporting vital pollinators and a healthy natural environment, which is important for residents’ well-being.
In addition to grassland management, Councillors also considered the existing use of herbicide across the council estate and approved a move to reduce its use. Glyphosate-based herbicide is the most widely used treatment for weeds but is classed as “Probably carcinogenic” by the World Health Organisation worldwide and has wide ranging negative environmental impacts, which has led to its ban in some countries.
Flintshire County Council has already invested grant funding from the Welsh Government Local Places for Nature fund in a Foamstream system which treats weeds with hot foam containing plant starches. Now, Flintshire County Council is committed to expanding alternative treatments and exploring options, which are better for both the people and the environment in Flintshire.
Katie Wilby, Chief Officer for Streetscene and Transportation said: “This county wide change in mown estate management and herbicide reduction is a vital part of our plan to tackle the nature and climate crisis”
Cllr David Healey Cabinet member for Climate Change and Economy and Environment & Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee member said: “This action is pioneering in Wales as far as we know, and our decision to approve these changes in policy sends a clear message that Flintshire County Council is serious about addressing the nature and climate crisis and that we recognise the importance of a healthy environment for the wellbeing of our residents.”