Destruction of wild orchids annoys villagers

Annual grass cutting near Bratton Fleming by the county council has also destroyed protected plant life, say residents.

BRATTON Fleming residents are fuming at the destruction of protected wild orchids for the third year in a row following the cutting of the grass verges.

The work carried out by Devon County Council highways contractors along the verges and hedgerows leading from Bratton to Loxhore Bridge has been as regular as clockwork each year – unfortunately, as far as some are concerned.

“Every May they come up and as soon as they do, the council comes along and mows them down again,” said Anne Richards, who lives at Bratton Fleming.

The orchids have been identified as the early purple variety, which like all wild orchids are protected under UK law.

Well known North Devon naturalist Trevor Beer MBE is also annoyed at the annual cut, which he described as ‘totally mad’:

“It’s a sad reflection on the county highways policy,” he said.

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“The problem is that when they turn these verges into something resembling billiard tables they are destroying a host of wildlife, from the plants themselves to the habitat for bees and other insects.

“There’s no question the early purple orchid is a very important flower on our verges.”

A spokesman for Devon County Council said verges were cut for visibility and other safety reasons, but added:

“However, we are sympathetic to the needs of wildlife and try to identify ‘special verges’ where flora and fauna of local or national interest exist so we limit grass cutting during specified protection periods and also, where practical, conserve and enhance the verge.

“The verge at Bratton Fleming is currently being considered for ‘special verge’ status.”

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