Letter to Editor: Are the wild flower strips in Harlow as ecologically positive as they’re made to be?

News / Thu 31st Mar 2022 am31 07:10am

DRIVING around Harlow this last week you will likely have noticed the first of the lawnmowers driving in tandem or holding hands side by side cutting the same strip of land. The smell of cut grass and yellow patches of dead grass emerging around lampposts, drains and strips about the length of to be wild flower strips, clearly as a result of a strong weed killer of some description.

I cannot help but wonder the quantity of weed killer being applied to the areas designated as wild flower areas is quite considerable when you add up all the strips on a square meter basis. All this extra chemicals entering the soil, affecting the local ecosystem, and for what.  Mechanically forced and harvested wild flowers.  Last season so many of the flowers would have seeded in the area and provided a natural growth.  Well that is until they were sprayed with killer, halted in their tracks and the sterile land post chemicals then awaits artificial seeding again.  Is this really adding a long term benefit or anything planned longer than a single season? 

It’s a shame whoever came up with the idea never looked at how natural meadows thrive, the amount of insects they bring, the bees and other wildlife not to mention the regeneration of flowers and plants each year.  A self contained ecosystem, self sustaining, providing life and self managed.  Instead it appears like the areas are wiped clean every year and started again like a rented house or commercial workshop.  Cleaned up ready for the next tenant and any previous benefit wiped, clean away previous traces with magnolia paint and start all over again. 

This project has such a potential to save grass cutting on the verges, providing a beautiful display and provide benefit to all living insects and beings.  Just look at the wonderful display the daffodils have provide around town, on the verges and in spare green spaces, self managed and zero impact on the local bio diversity of the land.


Chris B-M


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7 Comments for Letter to Editor: Are the wild flower strips in Harlow as ecologically positive as they’re made to be?:

Sarah Jarvis
2022-03-31 07:24:49

I noticed a brown patch of grass along Maddox Road, I was really surprised and saddened to see it as well.

Madeleine Paine
2022-03-31 10:34:52

Totally agree with these sentiments. I’ve already complained to the council on the dreadful and completely unnecessary spraying around the town. I witnessed a lady and baby in buggy being subjected to weed killer from a ride on vehicle travelling along the road whilst spraying at the pavement, shocking. Also what is the purpose of stripping every wall and subway bare of ivy. Do they really have no idea of the importance of this plant to wildlife? Is a wall of graffiti really preferable? Harlow really need to look at what other Essex councils are doing and take note. Even the county council aims to go pesticide free. Harlow please look at your environmental policy.

2022-03-31 13:17:42

Even though there is a pavement between my front lawn and the road the person spraying the weed killer managed to kill the edge of the grass nearest the pavement. This stayed yellow all last summer.

2022-03-31 13:43:23

Nicky Purse needs to get onto this and get a handle on the science and new practices. The idea of such projects as pioneered by other Councils like Rotherham was to reduce toxic weed and bee killers, plant more wildflowers and preserve other areas rather than cut back relentlessly, save wildlife and ecosystems, reduce expenditure on labour and radically reduce the impact and cost of using weed / bee killers. The original 75 year old idea of "green" or "garden town" meaning acres of cut lawn and monoculture grass fields was mistaken, it's not biodiverse and doesn't build Climate change resilience. These accounts are very disturbing Harlow, despite the wildflower experiment started last year simply hasn't caught up with the science. Similarly with trees and shrubs, a growing over enthusiasm to cut down, cut out and cut back. It's the same mistaken logic that has seen ancient trees around the town and in the Stort River Valley being cut down and thinking that planting hundreds of whips will be the answer, in no way would it be so. Similarly the faulty logic that got the ecologically damaging project to build the Eastern Crossing shows a disappointing degree of ignorance especially when there's other far greener and less costly options available.

Kim Oconnor
2022-04-18 08:15:33

Planting a few trees. Planting wild flowers, hedge groves. Tidying the town. All nice things, But failing miserably to tell the truth of real damage this party are going to do. BUILDING A 4 LANE ROAD OVER OUR BEAUTIFUL RIVER, BUILDING UNAFFORDABLE HOUSING ON OUR WET LANDS. SO YES YOU ALL LIKE TO BE SEEN TO DO YOUR BIT FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, THE TRUE DAMAGE IS FAR FAR WORSE THEN PLANTING A FEW SAPPLINES, THAT MAY NOT SURVIVE. you all approved this monstrosity. With hundreds of old trees ripped from there roots, wildlife habitat s destroyed ect ect. I think your loose a lot of votes through this. We know it was labour's plan, But you conservatives approved this, you could of stopped this. Unforgivable. So you reap what you

Kim Oconnor
2022-04-18 08:18:35

And stop using weed killer. Think of animals. I all ready lost one dog this way. So stop using poison s.

Jennifer Steadman
2022-04-20 14:54:44

I've contacted Nicky Purse to ask about these 'brown strips' and she has confirmed that they are indeed for wild flower seeds, however, what worries me is if weed killer has been used, if we dont have any rain or sufficient rain, this weed killer may sit in the soil ready to kill off the wild flower seeds that are due to be scattered. Also what type of weed killer was used? Glyphosate is well documented to be harmful to the wildlife and indeed to any cats or dogs who may stumble across it and has also been reported to be a carcinogen for humans who spray it. Nicky has promised to reply to me asap with the type of chemical used for these areas. I myself have been scattering wild flower seeds around the town in various places. I've not used any weed killer of any kind, so fingers crossed the town will have splashes of colour in the summer. I would urge other residents to do the same. 1kg box of seeds from Mr Saver in Bush Fair was £5 and covers 100sq meters.

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