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Weeding work on A19 wins environmental award

From left, Helen Denham SRM biodiversity working group lead, David Bruhlmann SRM A19 maintenance manager, Antony Firth Highways England, head of planning and development Yorkshire and North East, Richard Stelling SRM A19 landscape supervisor and  Szilvia Zakar SRM sustainability manager.
From left, Helen Denham SRM biodiversity working group lead, David Bruhlmann SRM A19 maintenance manager, Antony Firth Highways England, head of planning and development Yorkshire and North East, Richard Stelling SRM A19 landscape supervisor and Szilvia Zakar SRM sustainability manager.

The efforts of green-fingered roadworkers have cultivated in an environmental award.

Sections of the A19 dual carriageway travel through the County Durham Magnesian Limestone belt, an area of unique and internationally important habitat, and Highways England says its contractors Sir Robert McAlpine have worked hard to protect and restore this area.

Plants on grass which runs alongside the A19.

Plants on grass which runs alongside the A19.

By discouraging invasive weeds and removing the existing vegetation, the nutrient value of the soil has been lowered, which has created an environment much more suited to desired wildflower species according to experts.

The grass cutting has also helped create habitat piles and animal refuges, which might look like a stack of branches but make excellent homes for small animals.

The team has now been recognised with an environmental award as part of the CIRIA 2018 BIG Biodiversity Challenge Awards which took place in London.

Highways England’s route manager Ben Dobson said: “This is a fantastic achievement not just for the team but for wildlife along the A19.

Plants on grass which runs alongside the A19.

Plants on grass which runs alongside the A19.

"By carrying out this work we have increased the amount of rich grasslands to 115 sites.

“We have also been working closely with Durham Wildlife Trust to see what further improvements we can carry out along the route to create more wildflower meadows on the A19.”

Keith Polson from Sir Robert McAlpine who maintain the A19 between Dishforth and the Tyne Tunnel, said: “We are proud to have received this award, which recognises both the commitment of Highways England and Sir Robert McAlpine to responsibly managing our environment and the collaborative working relationship we enjoy.”

Mark Dinning, Head of Conservation, from Durham Wildlife Trust said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership on a scheme bringing benefits to such a nationally important habitat as the Magnesian Limestone grassland.

"This project has connected and restored valuable wildlife sites and unearthed what is a truly special resource of plants and insects which are benefiting under Sir Robert McAlpine’s and Highways England’s stewardship.”

Highways England is committed to a national Biodiversity Plan which is being supported by a £30million national investment programme over the next five years.

The plan recognises road verges and associated land can be managed to provide areas of habitat, relatively free from human access that may be scarce in the surrounding landscape.