Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Grass Cutting Season Starts!

Working in partnership with Buckinghamshire County Council’s ongoing parish devolution project, Transport for Buckinghamshire (TfB) is responsible for cutting the majority of highway verges around the county so the travelling public can use the roads and pavements safely. Each season they cut over 30 million square metres of grass which includes verges in residential areas, rural roads and at road junctions. This amount of grass is roughly equivalent to cutting the lawns of approximately 71,000 homes, so is no small task for the organisation.

Urban grass cutting

This year, six cuts are planned to take place in urban areas across the county, which started on the 30 March with the first cut will take approximately 6 weeks to complete, The second cut will take approximately 5 weeks, and the remaining four cuts will take 4 weeks each, reflecting the normal grass growing rate through the cutting season.

Nine dedicated gangs will operate across the county, each gang cutting the equivalent of 4 football pitches every day. TfB has brought in new machinery, able to operate under a wider range of conditions including thicker and damper grass than in previous seasons. Grass cutting is still weather dependent, however, and therefore some flexibility in the programme may be required, with the safety of the operatives paramount.

Devolution to Parishes

A number of Parishes have signed an agreement to take over responsibility for a number of County Council activities, including their own urban grass cutting. In these Parishes, urban grass cutting programmes will be managed by the Parish, not TfB, although TfB will retain responsibility for rural grass cutting within all Parishes.

Twenty three parishes have signed agreements and a further 26 have committed to the scheme.

​Rural grass cutting

The grass is cut in rural areas to ensure traffic, pedestrians and road signs can be seen. This season, two cuts will be carried out, with a further cut taking place at bends and road junctions, specifically considering road safety. The first cut will take place in May/June, with the second in July/August. The further cut around junctions will take place in September/October 2015.

Roadside verges in the county provide a habitat for many rare species of flora and fauna, some of which are identified as areas of ‘special botanical interest’. These areas will not be cut between 1 March and the end of August so that plants can flower. In the autumn the verges will be cut to remove the deadheads and help spread the seeds.

TfB has issued some guidance for the public to help them get the best cut possible…

- Please do not park on grass verges;
- Please do not place stones or logs on verges as these can be dangerous;
- Please let TfB know about any junction where visibility is blocked by long grass/weeds or overgrown hedges.
- Contact TfB if you recognise any noxious weed such as Japanese Knotweed or Ragwort on the highway verge.
- Remove your wheelie bin from verges as soon as possible after it has been emptied.

Mike Freestone, Buckinghamshire County Council Director of Transport Services said, “TfB is set up with new machinery, a robust programme and a competent workforce, so we are set to ensure that the grass cutting is carried out efficiently, effectively and on programme. Please do not expect a ‘bowling green’ type cut, however, we must be realistic about the cutting process and understand that safety requirements such as visibility at junctions comes first.”

Information on TfB’s grass cutting programme, along with frequently asked questions, can be found on their website – www.buckscc.gov.uk/grasscutting. The programme can also be found on their maps, where you can see the areas that have already been cut, and those programmed for a visit within the next 3 weeks - http://www.transportforbucks.net/Public-Maps-Page.aspx.