Rare orchids destroyed during council mowing

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A STEYNING resident has lashed out at council mowers for destroying rare bee orchids that were about to flower.

Heather Godfrey said signs to take care were ignored, meaning most of the area where they were growing has now been flattened.

One of the bee orchids in flower last year

One of the bee orchids in flower last year

But a separate bank of the plants nearby has been left pretty much unscathed following the works by West Sussex County Council on Monday.

Mrs Godfrey, of Penlands Rise, said the orchids had dispersed naturally. She had one in her lawn last year and the three plants on the verge may have come from that.

She added: “Despite the fact a special ‘do not mow’ request was sent to the council back in February, and despite the fact we put up a clear sign near to where they were growing, the council destroyed our bee orchids, which are very rare.”

A council spokesman said: “Only a small area of the verge was cut before we were made aware the area should stay as it is.

“We’re sorry about this and are reviewing how we identify sites that do not need cutting in the future to make sure all our workers are aware.”

County councillor David Barling said a separate bank of wild orchids on the corner of Portway and Penlands Vale was protected with an official Notable Road Verges sign.

A one metre strip is cut around the edges every year, to give better visibility for cars.

The county ecologist assured Mr Barling there had been no damage of a lasting nature to any orchids there during the latest round of mowing.