Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Bungling grass cutter destroys rare field at Iris Brickfield Park in Heaton

The local authority was asked by volunteers at a Newcastle park to trim a 1m-long verge around their carefully tended wildlife haven.

Instead, an over-zealous grass cutter turned up with a tractor and sliced through rare orchid and iris flowers and destroyed habitats for frogs and wild birds.

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council has apologised for the mistake and said staff are now working with the park’s volunteers to help the grass re-grow.

Janet Brown, secretary of the Friends of Iris Brickfield Park in Heaton, Newcastle, said: “They mowed down the area which is deliberately left long and maintained as a wildflower meadow. It’s particularly devastating because the orchids were in full flower but had not yet set seed.”

The park, which also has a community orchard and specialist wildlife areas, was home to one of the largest inner city meadows in Newcastle. It had been maintained by teams of volunteers from the Friends group and environmental charity Groundwork who helped protect the meadow’s orchid and iris flowers, birds, insects and frogs.

Retired teacher Janet said: “We have had an apology and the council’s manager for environmental services is devastated and we are now working on a solution.”

She said the group, with the help of the council, will try and stimulate new grass growth – although it will take up to five years for the orchids to grow.

Dog walker Ann Bone, 55, of Sackville Road, Heaton, passes through the park three times a day and said: “I quite liked it and thought it was really nice. It really did look like a proper meadow.”

Mick Murphy, director of communities for Newcastle City Council, said: “Unfortunately we cut a section of the grass at Iris Brickfield even though this isn’t included in our grass-cutting schedule. We apologise for this mistake.

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