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The importance of surveys to protect and create wildflower-rich road verges

Learn how London Gatwick Airport surveyed their road verges to help protect vulnerable wildflower species and create new wildflower-rich habitats that support rare pollinators.

The London Gatwick Airport Ltd Environment Team has identified opportunities and benefits to changing their approach to managing road verges, including:  

  • Biodiversity benefits of enhancing and creating wildflower areas. 
  • Potential cost savings through reducing the cutting effort (from up to 18 cuts per year to just 1 or 2) 
  • Reduced pollution by operating machinery less often. 

In support of the business’ Decade of Change sustainability targets, a trial was proposed in 2019 to investigate the potential for wildflower-friendly road verge management at London Gatwick. The team manages 27.6 hectares of road verge estate. 

Starting with a baseline botanical survey, gives the existing wildflowers on the verges a chance to thrive and informs how to best protect the plants and manage the verge for nature. The proposal was created in collaboration with London Gatwick’s engineering department and grounds maintenance contractor Glendale Services and approved by Aerodrome safeguarding.  

The road verges are sufficiently far away from the airfield to keep wildlife and traffic safe, meeting the requirements of the Civil Aviation Authority.   

A regular 1m safety cut is maintained to ensure sightlines are kept clear, and safety standards are met – also creating a safety buffer between the wildlife and the road.