Our response to criticism over #NoMowMay site near the Arc

We've taken a bit of a battering on social media over the past few days over our #NoMowMay site near Arc Leisure Matlock - even the naturalist Chris Packham has piled in.

When national activist groups with a huge social media following decide to knock you down you really are on a hiding to nothing, but we believe that local people will understand what we have been trying to do with this piece of land.

The only reason wildflowers bloomed there this spring is because we as a council took the decision to delay mowing the area to participate in the national #NoMowMay campaign, which allowed pollinators to thrive on the site. It is not usually a wildflower meadow.

As was always the plan we mowed part of the area at the start of June, but left other parts uncut to provide continuity for the pollinators. The photos above and below show the areas we have left uncut, including trees planted recently by councillors and local community groups.

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We know that local people have been using this space as a picnic area, particularly during the pandemic, which was why we cut the central space - but we have given a commitment to monitor its usage this summer to guide us on the possibility of extending #NoMowMay next year. We will consult the local community on this.

Over the past two years Derbyshire Dales District Council has embarked on an innovative biodiversity programme that has attracted national acclaim. It is therefore disappointing that activists should seek to drag down this Council's reputation. But we remain passionate about biodiversity.

Last year, working with parish councils and community groups, we identified 15 pilot sites where verges and public open spaces were cut at the end of February or early March, then 11 of these were scarified by us or by supporting community groups to create bare patches to give seeds already in the soil the space and light to germinate. Thanks to recommendations from councillors, officers and local residents we have increased the number of protected sites this year to 34 - and this number will continue to grow.

Last summer this resulted in more than 55 different flowering plants, ranging from common dandelions and buttercups to four species of orchid. A real success story.

We have checked on the wildflowers that remain on site at the areas we have left uncut at the Arc site:
  • Creeping butter cup
  • Curled Dock
  • Silver weed
  • Hog weed
  • Dandelion
  • Ribwort Plantain
  • Red/ White clover
  • Meadow Butter cup
  • Bush Vetch
  • Cinque foil
  • Common Daisy
  • Oxeye Daisy
  • Birds foot Trefoil
Our Biodiversity Team will be taking further recommendations from local residents, community groups, parish councils and councillors for next year’s programme.
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