Gloucestershire protected verge destroyed by water works
A protected roadside verge in Gloucestershire has accidentally been destroyed and replaced by stone.
Topsoil was scraped off the species-rich verge on Wickridge Street, Ashleworth, and tonnes of hardcore laid by Severn Trent Water's contractors.
The work was carried out despite special metal stud markings on the road which warn that the verge is protected.
A spokesman for Severn Trent said they were "really sorry" and would work to help put the area right.
Local resident, Rupert Hyett, has been tending the verge for nearly 40 years and said he was "devastated" to see the damage.
"I came home at lunchtime and found a man with a digger tearing off all the topsoil," he said.
"I had no idea that they were going to do that."
Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said the site contains nationally scarce plants such as the greater dodder (Cuscuta europaea) and the round-fruited rush (Juncus compressus), in addition to more than 500 common spotted orchids.
"This verge has long been known for its rich display of wild flowers so it is a disaster if it has been destroyed," said Colin Studholme from the trust.
"Severn Trent Water has a duty to make sure it doesn't damage wildlife when it carries out works like this, but they've clearly failed to do any checks in this case."
Contactor Morgan Sindall have been replacing water mains in Ashleworth on behalf of Severn Trent.
They said permission was given by Gloucestershire County Council to use the land as their site compound and they were not informed the site was protected.
A spokesperson for Gloucestershire County Council said it was unaware of the damage and would be looking into it as a matter of urgency.