Environmental and Soft Estate Management
The soft estate asset includes:
- Areas of highway verge
- cutting slopes
- areas within large interchanges and
- areas of land acquired during road building schemes
These areas are often used to mitigate against the visual and
other environmental effects of the road and traffic.
Whilst much of the soft estate consists of narrow strips of
grassland, scrub or woodland close to the carriageway it provides a
valuable habitat for wildlife and plant species.
Road verges can be of particular value if they comprise of
valuable habitat that also abuts larger areas of land such as Sites
of Special Scientific Interest or protected or designated
Conversely, roads are considered to have
significant negative effects on biodiversity and can be a factor in
affecting decline or loss of some habitats or species in certain
Reasons for this include
- road construction
- roads forming barriers to wildlife movement
- road kill incidents
- pollution, noise disturbance and
- artificial lighting.
An inventory of planted areas and the
species within these areas is developed ensuring that the
maintenance for highway and landscape management purposes is
carried out in a manner sympathetic to the protection of species
The prime concern of the team is the safety of the road user but
there are also legal and moral obligations to adjacent landowners.
Grass cutting and other clearance is undertaken to maintain
visibility at junctions, avoid obstruction of signs and to provide
a refuge for pedestrians or broken down vehicles.
most common form of nuisance to adjoining landowners is the problem
of injurious weeds spreading onto neighbouring land. The team must
ensure that a proactive approach to weed control is taken across
The team coordinates the inspection of trees to identify any
dead or dying trees which may be within falling distance of the
highway. These may also be on adjoining land.
Encroachments onto the highway or obscuring of signs, cameras or
road lighting are also problems that need to be managed whilst
causing minimal disruption or damage to wildlife habitats.