Biodiversity Booster

Biodiversity Booster

This week new ground was broken to promote biodiversity in Stansted Mountfitchet as land was prepared for wildflower seeding at two spots in the village.

A contractor for the Stansted Mountfitchet Parish Council on Monday rotavated the soil and set up protective fences on land near the B1383 roundabout as well as the two verges at the junction of Pennington Lane and Rainsford Road. 

In a week’s time Baines Gardening will return to lay low-growth turf at Pennington Lane and to seed the verge where Cambridge Road and High Lane meet with wildflower seeds. 

The project aims to boost plant and animal diversity in the two areas. Funding has come from two sources: SMPC’s Climate Change fund (£1,384) and £2,112 from an Uttlesford District Council zero carbon communities’ grant. 

The fruits of this investment should soon be evident. With favourable weather, residents should see wildflowers bloom at the verges at Pennington Lane in around six weeks, but it will take four more for the Meadowscape Pro seed mix used near the Cambridge Road knight sign to “produce a very colourful display,” according to Baines Gardening. 

You will have to wait until spring 2026 to admire the full benefits of wildflower seeding at the two locations. This is because it typically takes several growth cycles for fauna-rich habits to develop. 

In the meantime, SMPC plans to introduce wildflower seeding and rewilding to six other places across Stansted Mountfitchet.

Six More Biodiversity Sites

In autumn 2022, SMPC began a consultation exercise conducted on social media and in the local community magazine, The Link, to select places around the village for biodiversity projects. This exercise helped SMPC successfully bid at the end of 2023 for funding to create biodiverse habitats at the following locations:


Location                                                             Biodiversity Project                Project timeline

Pennington Lane / Rainsford Road                               Wildflower planting                        2024-2025

Walson Way Green                                                            Rewilding                                            2026

Forest Park SUDs                                                              Wildflower planting                       2025-2026

Memorial Gardens                                                           Wildflower planting                              2026-2027

The Recreation Ground                                                 Wildflower planting                       2027-2028

Foresthall Road                                                               Rewilding                                                2027

Elms Farm Park                                                               Wildflower seeding / planting            TBC


The type of plants to be seeded will vary at each spot but will include native seed mixes of annuals and perennials, poppies, English bluebells, snow drops and winter aconite. 

The seeds will produce colourful displays that will make Stansted Mountfitchet more attractive for residents and visitors. But not only that, these areas will provide pockets of food and shelter for insects, small mammals, birds and amphibian species threatened by a shrinking natural world.

Helping nature adapt

A State of Nature report by the Royal Society in 2019 estimated 50 years of urbanisation, modern agricultural practices, pollution and climate change has resulted in a 41% decline in the Uk’s animal life and an 18% fall in pollinators like the honey bee. The survey also found just 14% of wildlife habitats were found to be in a good state. 

It is against this backdrop that SMPC has been working to play its – albeit small – part in helping to reverse this collapse in biodiversity. 

The rewilding sites near Cambridge Road and Pennington Lane are part of a much broader effort by SMPC to support our natural environment.

Community Groups & Tree Planting

In 2022 SMPC set up and provided £3500 in funding to two organisations devoted to green issues. 

The first was Sustainable Stansted. The community climate change group aims to help households cut their energy use and improve the environment at the local level. Sustainable Stansted also works to promote biodiversity. Currently the group is using £10,000 from a Zero Carbon Communities Fund to conduct an ecological survey in Stansted. This study will map the plants, animals and habitats in the village and identify those in need of protection protect. The study could well influence the scale and location of SMPC biodiversity projects going forward. 

The second group set up by SMPC was its own Biodiversity Working Group. This has helped identify sources of funding for biodiversity projects, drawn up shortlists of contractors, and looked into matters like how best to limit the use of harmful herbicides used by the  council’s contractors. 

The Parish Council has also been planting trees to boost biodiversity. In 2023 this saw groups of saplings established at five sites in Stansted Mountfitchet: 

  • the Mountfitchet Green 
  • the Recreation Ground (including Windmill Fields) 
  • the Urban Square 
  • Walson Way 
  • and Wilkins Crescent

At each location a mix of 10 types of tree were planted to combat climate change and to promote biodiversity. 

No Mow May

One avenue the Parish Councll has yet to go down is No Mow May. 

Leaving the grass uncut for five weeks at the height of spring has been an increasingly common practice across the country since conservation charity Plantlife began promoting the practice in 2019. 

Benefits of No Mow May include providing a boost of much-needed nectar and pollinators across gardens, parklands and verges. 

Unfortunately, however, there are practical downsides to No Mow May for the Parish Council at this time. 

Firstly, our gardening contractors are concerned at the time it could take to cut back five weeks’ worth of growth. This would require several extra cuts. Adjusting schedules for these would disrupt their work with other clients. Money would also need to be found for these unbudgeted cuts by SMPC. 

That is not to say the Parish Council may not in future join in No Mow May. Grass contracts are up for renewal in 2025. By then we should also have the results from Sustainable Stansted’s ecological survey. This could provide us with a valuable insight into the health of the local environment and see No Mow May become a regular feature of the Parish Council year in some areas. 

Before that happens, as SMPC have done for all our biodiversity projects to date, we will be sure to ask for your thoughts on how and where we can best boost biodiversity in the village. .

Wild flower what?

For those new to the concepts of biodiversity and wild flower seedings below are some of the key ideas explained:

Rewilding: is about enabling natural processes to shape habitats, repair damaged ecosystems and restore degraded landscapes. In the local context areas targeted for rewilding would see contractors take steps to prevent monocultures developing where nettles and weeds dominate other plant species 

Wildflower seeding: the planting of wildflower seeds in an area to promote the growth of a broad variety of plant species which in turn would a supportive habitat for bugs and animals 

Biodiversity: the variety of plant and animal life in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable