The organisation in charge of London’s major roads has confirmed it is more than doubling the roadside area to be managed as wildflower verges. Transport for London (TfL) says the move is part of its soon-to-be-published Green Infrastructure and Biodiversity plan, which will set out how the authority “will seek to respond to the ecological crisis”.

According to the organisation, which is run by the mayor of London’s office, the 74,000 square metres of new wildflower verge takes London’s total to almost 130,000 square metres – the equivalent of 18 football pitches. TfL describes the move as part of its “continuing work to help encourage biodiversity, mitigate climate change and become more sustainable”.

The new verges were selected following trials across London, where TfL reduced mowing frequency “in order to encourage wildflowers”. It’s not clear how much TfL has invested in the wildflower verges, nor has the organisation said how much it is saving by reducing the frequency of mowing operations.

Parked cars on street in West Hampstead of London

However, the organisation says it “assessed” the trial sites, which included Redbridge Roundabout, Rowley Lane roundabout on the A1, and stretches of the A40 in Hillingdon. Following the assessments, it has decided to increase the area of verge managed in this way to almost 130,000 square metres with multiple new locations, including the Clockhouse roundabout in Feltham and the A21 Sevenoaks Road in Bromley.

The new wildflower verges will take several years to fully develop, and will only be in bloom for part of the year. TfL says it will continue to maintain the verges, but mowing will be “timed” to allow wildflowers to grow. Signage will also be installed to make it clear that these areas are being left to grow intentionally.

TfL says it will keep all the sites under review, and it will look at whether additional sites both on the TfL Road Network, as well as on other green spaces it manages, could be maintained in this way in the coming years.

“We are committed to building a network that is resilient to climate change and promotes biodiversity while being safe and reliable for Londoners,” said Lilli Matson, chief safety, health and environment officer at TfL. “The new wildflower verges will encourage biodiversity and make London a more liveable and nature-rich city. We will continue to work with our partners to adapt our network to reduce the short and long-term impacts of climate change.”