Val Taylor has long been a champion of Chipmans Platt roundabout (what most of us probably still know as the Little Chef roundabout), and has catalogued and photographed nearly 100 different species of wild flowers and grasses to be found on that one little island.
The full list can be seen here (pdf file) , and it makes for fascinating reading even if you are not a botanist – surely plants with ancient names like prickly sow-thistle, hairy St John’s-wort, false fox-sedge, biting stonecrop and beaked hawksbeard deserve some of our attention.
Val writes: “The Key species are the Bee and Pyramidal orchids and the wonderfully named Corky-fruited water dropwort of the carrot family. However, the real value of the whole is the plant diversity and consequently the wildlife – butterflies, moths, bees, ants and other insects – it attracts. There’s nowhere else in the parish quite like it (with the adjacent verges).
Remember the days when your car headlights and windscreens were covered in insects? Well, it doesn’t happen nowadays. The decrease in insect populations is catastrophic. I know some can be pesky, but the seriousness of their demise cannot be underestimated. Not only are they pollinators of our food crops but most are at the bottom of the food chain for other species of insects, reptiles, birds, mammals – ultimately us.
Lastly, it’s not just what’s on the island but the aesthetic, too. It’s lovely to look at. I have enjoyed many years walking over it, photographing it, driving round it, watching the seasons change; it’s brightened my life.”
The Conservation Road Verges register is maintained by Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) and Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (GWT) . It attempts to to identify and protect verges of significant wildlife or community value in the County. The idea is to ensure that these verges receive appropriate conservation management as part of highways maintenance and related schemes.
Our roundabout is designated CVR009 on the register. Sadly, this does not afford any legal protection, but the sites on the register are recognised by the planning authorities and the National Planning Policy Framework as being an important part of the biodiversity requirement.
Val, and during her recent absence, Andrew Niblett have been instrumental in ensuring that our roundabout is and stays on the register and that the various bits of District and County Council honour this, and will make good the damage done by the recent highways works.