Reduced grass and hedge cutting set to begin in two East Suffolk towns
A trial to reduce cutting and chemical use on grass and hedges in two Suffolk towns is to be agreed next week as the first step in a series of green measures.
East Suffolk Council's cabinet on Tuesday will agree the pilot for Southwold and Saxmundham, which will effectively see the town and parish councils speak to residents to find out which areas of land owned by East Suffolk Council in their communities they would like cut less.
It aims to reduce the carbon emissions of frequent cutting and reduce the use of herbicides, as well as encourage wildlife to flourish.
Maintenance will still take place to ensure it is safe, according to the council, with areas such as grass verges which pose a visibility issue by the side of roads and football pitches still having regular cuts as they are not appropriate for growth.
James Mallinder, Conservative cabinet member for the environment said the pilot was to iron out any issues and see if the project works before taking it further.
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"Less cutting doesn't mean less maintenance, so if it's on the arch of a road that needs to be cut.
"The reason we are doing it is for an increase in biodiversity - particularly for insects and pollinators - and it's a really positive thing the community can do.
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"We need to educate people, and that's why we are going to the town and parish councils to ask what areas people want, so it is coming from local people up - we are not telling them what to do, we are asking them."
He added: "This is not us as a council shirking our responsibilities, it's looking at it differently and in the context of the climate emergency."
East Suffolk Council declared a climate emergency over the summer, with the policy being the first expected to be approved as part of a series of green measures.
It is set to go to East Suffolk's cabinet next week for approval, where a proposal to form a task group dedicated to the environment is also expected to get the green light.
Graham Elliott, leader of the East Suffolk Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent contingent, said: "I think it is a really positive step, but one where we have to take the residents of East Suffolk with us.
"We need to enhance the biodiversity, reduce the chemicals being sprayed on our verges but we need to make sure we take with us the people that also want a slightly more traditional maintenance of verges and parkland.
"We are not talking about everywhere left to go wild, we are talking about specified areas."
If agreed, it is understood volunteer groups in those communities will be formed to monitor the maintenance of wildlife areas, with the pilots set to run through the 2020 growing season.
The recommendations also propose to draw up a plan that will move towards a policy of no spraying, and ensure the pilots are cost neutral.