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Thursday, 11 July, 2002, 11:30 GMT 12:30 UK
Protected orchids mowed down
Pyramidal orchids
The pyramidal orchids had been growing for 20 years
Four hundred orchids which survived on Dorset's declining chalkland for 20 years, have been mown down by an errant workman.

Despite a map and a sign alerting him to the protected wildlife verge, a private contractor accidentally chopped down the pyramidal and bee orchids.

Complaints flooded in to Dorset County Council and Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT), which runs 100 roadside verge schemes across the county.

But it was too late to save the orchids, which had been growing on the verge outside Dorchester for the past two decades.

Bee orchid
There are 100 roadside verges in Dorset

DWT's chief conservationist, Imogen Davensport said: "In this case the verge was marked and the chap cut around the sign, not realising what it meant."

"A lot of people enjoyed seeing those flowers, it's just a shame they have been lost."

The flowers should grow back next year, but there is some concern that the tractor may have uprooted the bulbs.

The contractors employed by the council have apologised for the mistake.

'Broke down'

Daragh Croxson, from Dorset County Council, said safeguarding the county's environment was a "high priority" and an investigation was under way to see what had gone wrong.

But he added: "This is a mistake and we are as upset as anyone.

"We have to cut back on the verges but we have worked very hard to make sure when we do, it is done sympathetically.

"On this occasion the system broke down really badly.

"We have got to look very carefully at the way we farm out this kind of work to private firms."


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See also:

03 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
02 May 02 | UK
12 Jul 01 | UK
18 Feb 01 | Scotland
07 Mar 01 | Scotland
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