RESIDENTS and members of Chudleigh Wild are railing against Chudleigh Town Council’s decision to begin mowing the verges on Lawn Drive again. 

The Town Council’s Environment Committee, who is responsible for the decision says it is an attempt to make the town look ‘tidy’, but Chudleigh Wild says it has undone many years of hard work trying to encourage wildlife back into the town. 

Dave Smallshire, Chair of Chudleigh Wild, said: ‘Since 2020, the Chudleigh Wild ‘Gardening for Wildlife’ Campaign has encouraged many residents to manage their gardens more positively for wildlife, helping to create stepping stones that allow creatures to move through our town. 

‘Expanding on this idea, we have worked hard to encourage wildlife into the grass verges along Lawn Drive, which previously had been frequently mown.’

Firstly, Chudleigh Wild created a bed of wildlife-friendly plants on the verge near Chudleigh Primary School, hoping that both children and their parents would appreciate the colourful flowers and the butterflies, bees and other pollinating insects that they attract.

They then encouraged hay meadow plants in the remainder of the verges by mowing infrequently and removing the cuttings. They also sewed new plants such as Yellow Rattle into the verges to encourage a variety of plants to grow.

However, Chudleigh Town Council has decided to resume the cutting of the grass after four of the six members of the Environment Committee voted to do so. 

Dave Smallshire added: ‘We think you will understand our dismay when we learned that the re-formed Environment Committee of Chudleigh Town Council voted in December to return to frequent mowing, with the cuttings left to rot. This decision, in the name of tidiness, will undo everything we have achieved in recent years. Moreover, it will send out the wrong message at this time of biodiversity crisis. Wildlife does not like tidiness.’

Emma Hares, Chair of the Environment Committee, said: ‘In the past, there were various areas in Chudleigh where Chudleigh Wild sought the Council’s permission to manage them. We agreed to this, but there is now an issue because Chudleigh Wild say that they are no longer able to produce the volunteers to manage the land. This is a problem as the Council now needs to consider how it will manage its land holdings. For instance, the areas of verge on Lawn Drive that Chudleigh Wild manage require the removal of grass cuttings to be suitable for wildflowers. That is not something our contractors would do.

‘At the moment the Council is considering options and what they will cost us before making a final decision in either February or March.’