Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Council’s Ecology Officer (copy enclosed) which seeks the Committee to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures take to improve engagement and increase publicity in relation to the project.


11am – 11.45am




The Lead Member for Environment and Transport Councillor Barry Mellor introduced the Wildflower Meadow Project Update report (previously circulated) alongside the Interim Head of Highways and Environmental Services and the Council’s Ecology Officer.


The Wildflower Project was a collaborative project between the Biodiversity Team, Streetscene and other Council departments, the aim of which was to create urban and peri-urban local provenance meadows through a reduced ‘cut-and-collect’ mowing regime. This project was regarded as key to halt and reverse biodiversity loss and tackle the Climate and Ecological Emergency.


The report aimed to provide information regarding the effectiveness of the steps taken to improve engagement and increase publicity with all stakeholders of the Wildflower Project.


The Chair thanked officers for attending, as the matter had been discussed at Communities Scrutiny Committee previously, and the issues raised then had been addressed and vastly improved.


The Ecology Officer (EO) highlighted the main points raised previously, including the need to improve communication and consultation. He explained that he and other officers had communicated with elected members on all levels and that the website had been updated.  In addition, correspondence issued to residents now included contact details for officers. There had also been a push on social media and with the local press highlighting the purpose and benefits of the wildflower projects. Tours had been arranged for elected members of some of the wildflower meadows across the county.


The Committee discussed the following in further detail –


·         Members were confused as some wildflower meadows had been cut, such as an area in Rhewl and surrounding the Denbigh area.  It was queried why elected members were not informed on the matter prior to the cut being done in order that they could alleviate any concerns raised by the public, and whether there were any internal communications breakdown that had led to this happening.  Officers advised that there was work underway to refine the highway grass-cutting policy.  They also clarified that many areas were cut ahead of Eisteddfod yr Urdd in Denbigh, some by residents themselves who wanted to ‘tidy’ up the approach routes to the festival.

·         The use of volunteers and whether the project had enough resources to maintain it for the long term – approximately 50% of the staffing resources working on the projects were funded through grant funding on a 12-month basis, which the EO highlighted was a challenge in terms of long term work planning and future sustainability.

·         The Committee raised fire safety concerns, particularly as the year had been hotter and drier than usual.  The EO did agree that the year had been hotter than usual. Consequently, the team contacted the Fire Service and the AONB Team to arrange fire safety and fire risk assessment training.  In future, all sites would be subject to a fire risk assessment on a monthly basis.

·         The Committee suggested that the success of the wildflower meadows be used for tourism purposes; the project was a significant achievement for Denbighshire and could attract people to the area and educate those who came to the county. Officers assured members this was something which officers intended to pursue.

·         Engagement with schools and Denbighshire’s housing and business/industrial tenants was raised, and whether there had been any push to get them to plant wildflower areas in school fields/gardens/land. The EO responded, stating that the wildflower meadow project logo had been designed by Denbighshire school pupils; approximately 55 seed planting sessions had been held with schools as part of the ‘bee hotels’ initiative.  Pupils were keen to engage with these sessions. The EO was in contact with the Housing Department who were extremely keen to be part of the project in future. The Committee also suggested contacting housing associations/registered social landlords (RSLs) operating in the county with a view to getting them engaged with the project.

·         The variety of the plants which would grow at wildflower meadow sites was raised; the EO clarified that some plants would grow and establish themselves at different rates dependent upon the type and quality of soil in the area. The Green Gates nursery in St. Asaph was key in securing the success of the project as nurturing and caring for the seeds sown there would allow more ‘attractive’ plants to be planted quicker.  Since it had opened 5,000 trees and 10,000 wildflower plants had been grown at the nursery prior to being transplanted in woodlands and wildflower meadows across the county.


At the end of the discussion, the Chair, summing up the Committee’s views, emphasised the importance of strengthening the following aspects with a view to securing the Project’s continued success and expansion:


·         effective communication with all stakeholders

·         working with the Council’s Housing Department, local Registered Social Landlords (RSLs), businesses and tenants of domestic and industrial properties to persuade them to engage with the Project;

·         educating residents of all ages on the purpose and long-term benefits of the project (including using elected members as a conduit for informing and educating their residents) ; and

·         exploring the potential benefits of promoting the Council’s approach towards the development of wildflower meadows as part of the tourist offer available for people visiting the county.


At the conclusion of an in-depth discussion the Committee:


RESOLVED:  subject to the above observations –


(i)    to confirm that it was happy with the steps taken to improve engagement and increase publicity, along with the progress made to date in delivering the Project’s benefits; and

(ii)  to pledge its continued support for the Project.



Supporting documents: