26 August 2015

An area of Sheffield is set to bloom into a colourful wildflower site thanks to a new partnership arrangement in the city.

Streets Ahead, who maintain the grass verges across the city is working with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the University of Sheffield as part of a Living Highways project to turn an area of grassland on Tinsley roundabout into a crop of wonderful wildflowers.

A mixture of seeds will be sowed as a trial on the patch of land after the grass has been removed, including Yellow Rattle, a wildflower that slows the rate of grass growth, helping other wildflowers to thrive. It is hoped that over the next year the flowers will bring biodiversity into the area and encourage pollination as they flourish, as well as brighten up the area.

Cllr Terry Fox, Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Wildlife Trust and the University of Sheffield on this great project. By helping to create wildflower verges we are going someway to helping to support the wildlife and insect population.

“We are hoping that this project can be rolled out wider across the city to create more wildflower planting areas.”
Darren Butt, Streets Ahead’s Operational Director, said: “Across the city we look after more than 2 million square metres of grass verges and grass areas. As part of the Living Highway project we are looking at highway verges and how we can improve the biodiversity. We identified the site on Tinsley roundabout as the area would benefit the local landscape.

“The seeds will take some time to mature into flowers, so please bear with us if the sight doesn’t look too colourful to begin with, but we’re looking forward to seeing how they brighten up Tinsley roundabout. We’re asking the public to not walk on the site so that we can give the seeds the very best chance of survival.”

Nicky Rivers of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, added: “We understand that some people prefer road verges to be neat and that they need to be kept reasonably tidy for safety reasons. But wildlife prefers them when they are more wild and messy – with a variety of wildflowers – and we do too! We’re really pleased that Streets Ahead are engaging in this experiment as we are convinced that Sheffield’s grass verges can be not only more beautiful but also great for our native plants and wildlife.

“This is the first step in testing out this approach as part of a longer term programme that we have been developing with the Streets Ahead team over the last year – it may not work immediately but we will continue to trial new approaches that we hope will improve our grass verges across the city.”

The University of Sheffield will monitor the trial and will look to implement it in other areas of the city if it is successful.

Streets Ahead has also recently changed how often the grass on some of the verges across the city is cut in order to protect wildlife.

Following advice from Natural England and the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, some of the verges that border or cross ecologically sensitive areas will be cut less frequently. For more information and a list of the verges included, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk/ecoverges.