Campaigning for wildlife-rich roads: what you can do
Properly managed, roadside verges sequester Carbon 3x faster than Forests, act as buffers to noise, air and water pollution, and are magnificent wildlife corridors for pollinators and small mammals. So, I’ve created a petition asking Hampshire County Council to manage their verges in a way that’d create these beautiful strips of meadow (Petition · Hampshire County Council: Improve Hampshire’s roadside verges for wildlife and people · Change.org). With national gems like the New Forest and South Downs NP in our county, I also think the biodiversity we could see on some of these verges could incentivise other counties to follow.
However, if you’ve signed the petition (if not, please do that first!) and we’ve over 500 signatures, it’s time to begin ramping up the pressure to the council. So, below are various contacts that can make this dream for our wildlife a reality, for you to contact to take it a step further! Contacting via phone is typically best, as it shows you’re proactive and determined, but if you’d prefer to send an email/letter, I’ve made a template I personally use, for you to use, to save time: Roadside Verge Email (template) (savethehousesparrow.com).
If all of these contacts received several emails/phone calls, just think how quickly people would take notice. Use these contacts as you wish and do share the petition if you haven’t already! Good luck and let me know if you need anything else via email/social media.
Your local MP. By far the best person to contact, since they’re legally obliged to listen to and act in your interest. Although a solitary email might not seem to accomplish much, they do take notice (even if we don’t hear about it). To find your local MP, visit: Find your MP - MPs and Lords - UK Parliament.
Hampshire County Council. The recipient of this petition, since individual councils (such as one local to me: Havant Borough Council- 023 9244 6019 or Contact us | Havant Borough Council) don’t always have the power to make large-scale changes like this.
You can call the County Council at- 0300 555 1375 or get in contact via their “have your say” page: Have your say | About the Council | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk) or on here: Contact the Council | About the Council | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk). Finally, there’s the planning and environment team, a niche group within the County Council-0300 555 1389.
The County Council is also divided up into several councillors, each responsible for a geographical ‘zone’ of Hampshire. To find and contact your local one, visit: Find Councillor | About the Council | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk) and to make the maximum impact, feel free to contact neighbouring councillors too (which I do) as it concerns the whole of Hampshire.
Highways England. Jointly responsible for the management of our roadside verges in England, you can contact them and put forward the suggestions to adopt Plantlife’s management guidelines by emailing them at email@example.com giving them a ring at 0300 123 5000.
Definitely one you should try contacting, as they’ve a legal obligation to include nature in their management of road verges, and assisted Plantlife and the Wildlife Trusts in founding the management guidelines: Plantlife :: Managing Grassland Road Verges.
The Environment Agency, the government body for “creating better places for people and wildlife” are worth a contact, although being a large body, it may be an idea to put something like “if there’s someone more qualified to respond to this than yourself, would you mind forwarding me to them?”. To contact them, phone +44 (0) 114 282 5312 Mon-Fri 8am-6pm or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, you could contact your local Environment Agency office at: Office access and opening times - Environment Agency - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) for a more personal, niche response.
Your local council. Be it a borough, city or parish council, your local council is always an amazing first contact (alongside your MP). I find this is one of the situations where phoning and emailing has the best impact. To find your local council, go to Find your local council - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) but bear in mind neighbouring councils oftentimes will listen to what you have to say as well, so are worth a contact.
Finally, although it won’t directly help the petition, if you know a roadside verge you feel is valuable/has rare species present, it can be designated as a Road Verge of Ecological Importance (RVEI) and if it qualifies, will be designated a tailored management plan to preserve its biodiversity. To find out how to do this, go to: Road Verges of Ecological Importance (RVEI) | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk).
Of course, you can contact scores more people/organisations than this reduced list. If you’re feeling really ambitious you could even do something like write to the PM himself about this! (Which I’d love to do soon, even if I don’t get a response, it’ll still be seen by someone!) so, if you think of anyone else, as always give me an email or let me know on social media.
Thanks so much for reading, and good luck campaigning!