Beaminster Tunnel vegetation and slope management update

I thought the community would like to hear about the schedule of works that has been taking place on the Beaminster Tunnel.

There was planned work to start treating the huge amount of Himalayan balsam which appeared after the slope stabilisation was complete.

Dorset County Council has carried out three treatments on the tunnel slopes and nearby verges and hedgerows this year – two days each time in June, July and September where local contractors who specialise in the treatment of Himalayan balsam used hand pulling and strimming to get rid of as many plants as possible before they flowered and set seed. The Ecologist within the Natural Environment Team reported that she helped out and said “the gradient and dense vegetation made it a pretty challenging work environment – you may have seen some of the operatives abseiling across the tunnel slopes”.

She added “At the beginning of the third treatment it was noticeable that there was much less balsam around, and that the plants which were still growing were smaller and much less healthy looking. In addition the mix of native grasses which was sown onto the slopes has really started to take hold and cover the ground well. There is also a good growth of bracken and brambles, all providing good habitat and food for wildlife.”

The contractors are also continuing to prevent the regrowth of trees and shrubs on the stabilised slopes, as these could damage the mesh over time.

The lead Ecologist added “I feel that we have had as much of an impact as we could hope for on the balsam in this first year of work. It will be very interesting to see how much comes up next year when we will be continuing to pull and strim it as above and I hope that by the third and final year of this work we will at least be back to the amount which was on site before the work started, that is if we haven’t managed to get rid of it entirely.”

If you have any questions, please let me know. Himalayan Balsam is incredibly invasive, landowners need to treat it responsibly but effectively wherever possible.

Rebecca Knox
Dorset County Councillor for the Beaminster Division

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