West Sussex Gazette

Verging on perfection: roadside spot like a ‘mini nature reserve’

How road verges could become a ‘vital green corridor’

- Elaine Hammond ws.letters@jpimedia.co.uk

A stunning plot of flourishin­g flora and fauna north of Worthing is to be officially designated as a Notable Road Verge by West Sussex County Council.

“Road verges don’t come better than this,” said wildlife expert Neil Hulme, who has been carrying out butterfly surveys at the verge off Long Furlong in Patching.

The verge will become the 85th Notable Road Verge in West Sussex, with a distinctiv­e oak marker post installed to ensure it receives appropriat­e management.

Neil, a consultant ecologist and butterfly expert, works closely with the county council, South Downs National Park Authority and many landowners to help improve habitats for the benefit of butterflie­s and a wealth of other wildlife.

He gave the verge a rave report following a summer of research: “Road verges don’t come better than this. It was like walking across a mini nature reserve, which is what many verges have the potential to be, forming vital green corridors across the landscape.

“The results of my butterfly surveys here are spectacula­r, as is the flora, which includes beauties such as the bee orchid. My count of 424 butterflie­s included 20 species, the highlights being 107 small blue, which is quite rare and very localised in distributi­on, 222 common blue and 21 brown argus.

“Mating pairs of these three species were seen and many other females were observed laying eggs on plants, which would be removed if cut too early in the year.

“Butterflie­s are highly sensitive indicators of habitat health. Where they occur in high numbers and diversity, it means that many other aspects of our fauna and flora will be flourishin­g.”

The existing NRVs make a combined total of 51km, covering an area equivalent to 293 football pitches.

Joy Dennis, county cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We are very fortunate to have glorious road verges such as this in the county and this shows, in stunning fashion, how our rural cutting regime can produce this kind of display in places, where road safety allows.”

Deborah Urquhart, county cabinet member for environmen­t and climate change, said: “I couldn’t agree more with Neil’s comments – his pictures are stunning. Some of our roadside verges are home to a number of scarce insect and plant species, provide spectacula­r wildflower displays and are testament to our commitment to the Pollinator Action Plan.”

Please note there is no safe parking near to the Patching verge and part of the reason for the flourishin­g flora and fauna is the lack of footfall, so people are urged by the county council to keep to the public footpaths.

n For all the latest news from across West Sussex, visit our website at www. westsussex­today.co.uk

 ?? ?? Neil Hulme’s picture of the roadside verge off Long Furlong, in Patching
Neil Hulme’s picture of the roadside verge off Long Furlong, in Patching

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