Trust ‘devastated’ after council contractors destroy 17,000 roadside orchids

Contractors working for a council have swept away 17,000 orchids on a protected Roadside Nature Reserve in Kent as part of works intended to improve road safety, in what the local wildlife trust has described as a "devastating and upsetting" event.

Kent County Council said that the drainage works at the Bluebell Hill Roadside Nature Reserve were required to “renew and improve the existing system to prevent flooding and aquaplaning on the A229”. The county council said that it would fund remediation works and discuss long-term management of the site for wildlife and highway safety with Kent Wildlife Trust, which has been managing the site for 15 years.

In a blog, Plantlife botanical specialist Dr Trevor Dines expressed “horror” at the council’s decision to clear the verge (pictured below, before the works), which he said was home to 9,000 pyramidal orchids and nearly 8,000 common spotted orchids, as well as man orchids, bee orchids and a wide range of other special chalk downland flowers.

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