M25 'Stepping Stones'
Our environment team are committed to working in a sustainable way. We are continually dedicated to making significant progress in reducing our carbon footprint as well as looking to identify new technologies and solutions to help improve our relationship with the environment.
We are also focused on our local communities, including supporting and enhancing habitats of local species.
A recent scheme our team have been working on has focused on enhancing the habitat at two selected sites on the M25 between junction 16 to 22.
The project aims to benefit all pollinators, particularly butterflies and moths, by not only providing a source of nectar but also food plants for their larvae.
By increasing the numbers of pollinators and their larvae, it creates a knock-on effect by providing a food source for predatory insects; such as dragonflies, carabid beetles, spiders and birds, especially during the nesting season.
The team identified one site in which they will scrape the surface soil and create small banks, before sowing with a species rich mix of 80% grasses/20% wildflowers. On another site they will plant plug plants into the existing grassland; which is a rolling project and will be joined by further sites this year.
These are just a few species that have been included in the seed mix:
- Vipers bugloss - this is an important source of pollen and nectar for bees as it flowers into October and provides a high amount of nectar, it is also an occasional larval food plant of the painted lady butterfly.
- Yellow rattle is hemiparasite of grasses, it supresses their growth so creating an environment for wildflowers to thrive, it is known as a meadow creator.
- Wild carrot like many umbellifers attracts beetles such as the swollen legged flower beetles and some long horn beetles as well as hoverflies.
- Cocksfoot is a very important larval food plant for many lepidopterans, such as the meadow brown, ringlet, speckled wood and some skipper species.
- Common sorrel is the larval food plant of the small copper butterfly and the blood vein moth.
- Birds foot trefoil is another extremely important plant that provides nectar over a very long season and very nutritious pollen. It is also larval food plant for 30 butterflies and macro moths such as the common blue butterfly.
- Field scabious is an attractive wildflower that attracts butterflies, in particular the Marbled White, their seeds are also a favourite of goldfinches and linnet.
- Red fescue is the larval food plant of the marbled white butterfly.
The first target species of our team is the striped lychnis moth which is also the Upper Thames Butterfly Conservation Species Champion for the moth.
There already exists a small colony of this species at a local Butterfly Conservation, therefore it is an aim that one of our sites will become a steppingstone to help them expand their range. To enhance the site, our team have planted dark mullein, which is their larval food plant.
This particularly species was once a widespread moth across southern England but unfortunately suffered a rapid decline and is now confined to Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and West Sussex.
Furthermore, the small blue is the UK`s smallest butterfly and is currently listed as ‘near threatened’. The species relies on undisturbed and un grazed grassland and, due to being monophagous, the presence of kidney vetch.
There are records of small colonies of small blue close to our site at junction 22, thus our environment team have increased the percentage of Kidney Vetch in the seed mix and will create banks which the males require to establish territories.
Additional plans include enhancing the habitat of four bumblebees; the shrill, moss, brown banded carder bees and red shanked carder bees as well as the ‘vulnerable to extinction’ brown hairstreak.
Notes to Editors
About Connect Plus and Connect Plus Services
- Over 10 years ago, Highways England awarded Connect Plus the contract to operate and manage the M25 and its key arterial link roads.
- Connect Plus is a consortium that includes Edge Orbital Holdings Ltd, Balfour Beatty and Egis Road Operation UK - a unique partnership with a collective strength in highways maintenance and management.
- Connect Plus Services (CPS), is Connect Plus’ specialist and strategic supply chain partner responsible for operations and maintenance, bringing together the collective strength and expertise of its parent companies, Balfour Beatty, Atkins and Egis Road Operation UK.
- With a workforce of around 600 people, based at seven locations around the network, CPS carries out routine maintenance, and whole-life management of thousands of M25 assets. CPS manages the operation of the network 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including a severe weather season maintenance programme.
- Over the past 10 years, collectively we’ve delivered over £1.4bn worth of road improvements and junction enhancements, and we’re continually exploring new and innovative ways to deliver safer, more reliable journeys for our customers. Together, we’re passionate about delivering the long-term needs of the M25 and improving the driving experience for all our customers.
- For further information please visit https://www.connectplusm25.co.uk/ or follow us at https://twitter.com/cpservices_m25