Isle of Wight pilot verge management scheme aims to protect ‘Nature’s Highways’

The Isle of Wight’s verges are effectively mini nature reserves and this new pilot scheme will allow the biodiversity found there to thrive. Details within

wildflower verge

A partnership between Island Roads, Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils and the Isle of Wight AONB Partnership is highlighting a new approach to the management of road verges on the Island called ‘Nature’s Highways’.

Following on from workshops in summer 2019 and the publication of the IWAONB Nature’s Highways Strategy 2020, the parishes of Shorwell and Chillerton and Gatcombe have been working with Island Roads on a pilot verge management scheme that encourages the biodiversity found in these linear nature reserves to thrive.

Not only does this allow wildflowers to bloom but also providing corridors for pollinating insects, birds, and small mammals.

These wildlife corridors help bring nature to people, strengthening connections with the environment and improving quality of life including mental health.

‘Nature’s Highways: Roadside Verges on the Isle of Wight
The partnership has produced a leaflet ‘Nature’s Highways: Roadside Verges on the Isle of Wight’ which has been distributed across the pilot area to residents to let them how and why the verges are being managed and is available as a download from the IWAONB Website.

It is hoped that the Isle of Wight will join many other local authority areas across the UK who are looking at the sustainable, wildlife friendly management of roadside verges and other greenspaces.

Belben: Benefits demonstrated
Gillian Belben of Chillerton and Gatcombe Parish Council said,

“Our verge surveys in the spring and summer of 2020 have demonstrated how beneficial the management scheme has been in increasing the flowering plants and insect life in our parish lanes.

“We look forward to continuing this strategy in future years.”

Grogan: Adoption of the pilot schemes is very welcome
Richard Grogan, Lead Officer for the Isle of Wight AONB said,

“Following the successful AONB-led designation of the Isle of Wight as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the adoption of the pilot schemes is very welcome.

“We would like to thank Island Roads and the Parish Councils in the AONB who have helped make these pilot schemes a success and we are keen to support similar schemes elsewhere on the Island.”

Wallis: Always willing to discuss new approaches
Dave Wallis, Island Roads’ operations and maintenance manager said,

“As we have shown with the recent changes to the way we carry out weed removal, we are always willing to discuss new approaches to the safe management of the highway network, particularly so when it delivers environmental benefits.

“We are really pleased to be part of this project. Verge management is an issue of great local interest and we are always open to suggestions as to how we can continue to meet our contractual obligations in a way that is kind to our natural environment.”

Seely: I am grateful to all those involved
Bob Seely MP said,

“I am pleased to see a new approach to the management of verges being piloted on the Island. It’s important we protect our wildlife habitats and retain as much natural beauty as possible where safe to do so.

“I am grateful to all those involved in the Nature’s Highway project and I hope to see this approach extended across the Island.”

News shared by Joel on behalf of Isle of Wight AONB. Ed

Image: samsaunders under CC BY 2.0

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13 Comments on "Isle of Wight pilot verge management scheme aims to protect ‘Nature’s Highways’"

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A great initiative, IW AONB. Not only Island Roads, but also the general public have a lot to learn about the huge loss of biodiversity in this country, due to habitat destruction. Like the Island Roads spokesperson in this article, people call our native wild plants ‘weeds’, a derogatory term like ‘vermin’, which gives them an excuse to spray them with poisons or pull them up. They… Read more »
Steve Goodman
It’s odd that the Island and other authorities are taking so long to do something that has for years been proven to be cheaper, easier, and so beneficial compared to the still too common continual cutting of much more biologically barren and visually boring grass verges. And other, more interesting and useful ground cover options are of course available for areas where growth needs to be kept… Read more »
Steve Goodman
Related PS: I’m pleased that MP Bob’s pleased to talk about the importance of protecting our wildlife habitats and retaining as much natural beauty “as possible where safe to do so”, and reminded that he abstained from voting for the costly vanity project and massive habitat trashing HS2 folly which his party has pushed through instead of investing in the many smaller and mainly restorative rail schemes… Read more »
How ironic this article is after witnessing a vehicle drive straight across the verge at the Prior Carpark on Saturday morning – not long after it had been reinstated after someone else thought it ok to just drive across the verge leaving foot deep trenches in the grass……. a great shame that some people dont give a rats backside about the countryside. and yup I have a… Read more »
Steve Goodman

Users of the path between Newport and Cowes have to witness the ugly and unhealthy results of the deliberately lazy and low-skilled (IR?) vehicle mounted mechanical flailing which has left hundreds of disease-inviting torn branches…

Food for Thought

Brilliant to read such a positive article advocating protecting verges and habitats. I hope the IWC Planning Department take the same approach to protect the much loved woodland in Bembridge from development by mainland developers.


Just heard about this plan to build two holiday pods with parking in the woods along Love Lane, Bembridge. It appears a mainland company bought the plot at a ‘deceased auction’ without even seeing it. The guns of the retired top brass of Bembridge are now focusing on IWC Planning Dept. They wouldn’t dare give permission…would they?

Food for Thought

There begs the question. The planning officer is the same one that granted planning permission for the other controversial site in Bembridge, are they going to put themselves in the firing line again? And of course where are the Green Party in all of this?

Angela Hewitt

What about all of the healthy ancient and non-ancient trees they are obsessed with cutting down. Is that going to stop. Oh and what do they do with the wood. Sell it for a profit??!!

Guy Eades
This agreement between the AONB and Island Roads is both sensible and welcome. However we need Island Roads to agree and update their ‘Nature’ Plan for towns as well. We need more trees on our streets and for IR to learn to properly pollard a tree rather than biennially reducing them to a stump. The Plane trees in our cities e.g London are magnificent and there is… Read more »
One good thing to stem from Covid was the Council not cutting verges as often as they did – along with the cost also. Verges and hedge rows have always been a good habitat for wildlife, shame they do not layer hedges instead of ripping the sides of them with a blunt hedge cutter. A layered hedge would encourage more wild life to thrive and our endangered… Read more »
I couldn’t agree more with the scheme. The key word is managed. I do hope that this is not going to be used as an excuse not to cut verges where it is in the interests of all road users to have them cut, be it motorists, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, farm vehicles or pedestrians. I refer to many of the rural single track lanes especially along… Read more »

PLEASE leave the berry -bearing bushes to feed the winter migrant birds… redwing, fieldfare waxwing etc etc etc too!