Credit:PA Grass verges must be allowed to grow because plants and animals are dying, a national conservation charity has warned.Plantlife is mounting a petition against local councils calling for them to scale back their mowing of verges after revealing there has been a fall of almost 20 per cent in plant diversity.Meadows have suffered a decline of 97 per cent since the 1930s and now the charity has warned that verges are acting as the last remaining refuge for many bees, butterflies, birds, bats and bugs.Plantlife botanical specialist Dr Trevor Dines said: “Councils have adopted this over-eager regime to mowing which really has been around for sometime now, thanks to the neat and tidy brigade.“There is this idea that all verges must look like a village green, and councils are now having to undertake this balancing act to firstly keep drivers safe but then also help wildlife where possible.“It really is a vicious cycle but I think councils should at least try and take some action towards protecting our wildlife.” Dr Dines addressed these fears saying that it was “vital” that road safety came first, but that not every verge needed to be “turned into green concrete with no wildlife left.”Concerns have also been voiced over the impact of emissions from vehicle exhausts which are acting as a fertiliser for a group of nitrogen-loving plants like nettles, which outcompete traditional flowers. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Credit:PA In a bid to save our verges Plantlife have launched a petition calling for councils’ management to better benefit flowers and wildlife which has so far reached more than 24,600 signatures. Those councils that have already adopted the guidance of Plantlife have seen strong floral and financial results. Dorset Council estimates they have saved over £100,000 through, among other things, fewer cuts since 2014.However, the AA cited that a number of drivers have complained about overgrown road sides, which they say could have dangerous consequences.A spokesman from the AA said: “In many places we can see that verges have become havens for wildlife and plants, however there also needs to be considerations for driver safety and this must be paramount.“Especially at junctions and roundabouts drivers are having to edge out, sometimes onto the roundabout, just to see behind grass verges which can of course be dangerous. And I think drivers do appreciate the need to maximise natural potential, but not at the expense of safety.“We appreciate what councils and conservationists are doing, but of course there are many drivers who still have concerns.” The government says nitrogen emissions from exhausts will steadily fall as vehicles get cleaner over coming decades.The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland, BSBI, agrees that roadside plant diversity is falling, and nitrogen deposition near roads had increased.But it said the interplay between air pollution and poor management impacts on roadside verges by local councils was not well understood.