Boost for biodiversity in Shropshire as Severn Trent helps plant wildflower-rich road verge 

Wednesday 13 December 2023

As Severn Trent makes great progress to replace every lead supply pipe in the Bomere Heath area, staff from the water and waste company are teaming up with a local community group to re-seed road verges to create wildflower-rich nature corridors. 

Last month, Severn Trent launched its support for the ‘Restoring Shropshire’s Verges Project’ (RSVP) by sponsoring its conference called: ‘Hedges, verges and watercourses - the Importance of these features in our Shropshire landscape', that had the aim of sharing best practices with town and parish councils. 

And following last month’s conference, a group of six Severn Trent staff teamed up with project members to re-seed an 800m section of the B4371, the equivalent length of around eight football pitches, just outside of Hope Bowdler. 

The ‘RSVP’ project, also in partnership with Shropshire Council, aims to restore wildflower-rich verges on the sides of roads in the area, as well as small pockets of communal land. RSVP also supports local individuals, small groups of residents or parish councils to set up their own verge project in their local area.

Katie Cockerill, Assistant Project Manager for Severn Trent’s supply pipes programme, said: “As well as re-seeding the road verge, we also litter picked and cut back some brambles. We planted yellow rattle seeds – they suppress invasive flowers and nettles that strangle other wildflowers. In the UK there’s not that many areas that provide habitats for smaller species such as moles, mice and bees and this will help create a piece of land that they can use as a habitat.

“The new wildflowers will come through next Spring, which will be a big boost for biodiversity, and will mean that new wildlife corridors have been created so nature can thrive there. We’re really enjoying working with the RSVP project - the education that they provide the local community is really important and we’re happy to be a part of it.

“It was a brilliant day – the weather came out for us, it was very therapeutic and wonderful to get out an about in the community and we hope that in March we’ll start to see the rewards of the work that we carried out. We’ll also be returning to the area in June for more re-seeding.”

The six Severn Trent staff who helped to re-seed the section of road, all work on a programme in Bomere Heath and surrounding villages to replace every lead supply pipe in the area. The project is one of seven that Severn Trent is carrying out as part of its £566 million Green Recovery. 

Katie added: “We’re making great progress with our Green Recovery supply pipes programme – as it stands we over 560 customer registrations to have their supply pipe replaced. When we remove all lead pipes in the area, we’ll be able to stop using phosphate to treat the local water supply, which has great environmental benefits.”

Lorna Taylor, from RSVP, said: “The enthusiasm of the Seven Trent staff was infectious, and they made the activity fun and rewarding. They are already knowledgeable about the need to increase biodiversity, and had lots of questions. We’re very much looking forward to working with them next year, as we continue the restoration work on the verges.