Page last updated at 10:55 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 11:55 UK

Council destroys 200 rare orchids

Rare wild bee orchids in Mill Hill
The rare orchids were found on the site six years ago. Pic: Stanley Allen

More than 200 rare wild bee orchids have been mistakenly mown down by a council worker who cut the grass on a protected verge in West Sussex.

Residents of Mill Hill, in Shoreham, said the bank was clearly marked as a Notable Road Verge for wildlife.

Stanley Allen said some neighbours even came out and shouted at the worker, but he could not understand them.

Ben Rainbow, ecologist for West Sussex County Council, said it was "a human error" and it would not happen again.

But despite this, residents have pinned a notice to a nearby tree accusing the contractors of incompetency.

"I can understand people's frustrations," Mr Rainbow said.

"It's nice that the local people have got a sense of ownership over the wildlife on this verge, and we'll do everything we can to ensure that it's conserved in the future."

The orchids were discovered six years ago but Mr Rainbow said although they did not like being cut every year, the "odd year" would hopefully not be too detrimental for them.

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