It’s true what they say – one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure - and that is certainly the case for a North Yorkshire gin and sloe gin producer just off the A64.
Over the last seven months, Highways England has been carrying out a major junction improvement at Barton Hill near York to improve safety and visibility for road users. As part of this £2.8m scheme which completed on Friday, sections of the hedgerow, a number of trees and stone from an old water culvert had to be removed.
But rather than throwing these items away Highways England and its contractor A-one+ have given them a new lease of life by working closely with Jonathan and Julian Curtoys, the owners of Sloemotion.
Highways England project manager Russell Mclean said:
“We saved as much of the hedgerow as possible but sections of the hedge had to be removed. The sloe berries used to produce the gin grow on hedgerows, so it seemed like the perfect solution to donate the hedge to this local sloe gin producing firm.
“We were able to reduce the amount hedgerow we needed to remove by altering some of the scheme’s drainage and this work will also help to prevent flooding in the area. Some logs from the trees were also donated to Castle Howard stately home to be used as chippings in the ground.”
Cabinetmaker and artist Mark Bennett, of the Woodlark in Malton, was also brought on board. He will be taking part of an Oak tree which was removed from the site and transforming it into a bar for Sloemotion. The remainder of the tree will be used to create bat and bird boxes, which will be placed near to the A64.
Mark will also be using some of the removed hedgerows to create innovative displays for the gin company’s products and hand cut stone from the culvert will be used to adorn the company’s new buildings near Barton-le-Willows.
Russell added: “Our work to improve safety at the junction will benefit over 9,000 drivers a day. We have converted the crossroads to a staggered junction by realigning Mains Lane, extended the culvert to allow the carriageway to be widened, constructed 200m of new road and realigned 600m of the A64. We have also relocated a bus stop, an emergency telephone and a pedestrian crossing.
“While we were doing this we upgraded and extended an otter fence to prevent them coming onto the A64. And we have reinstalled an old milepost and will be replacing a historic road sign that has been refurbished.”
Jonathan Curtoys, Managing Director of Sloemotion, said the junction improvements will benefit his employees who use the junction.
“The changes will certainly have a positive benefit for drivers but then to also donating the hedgerow, the stones and timber to local businesses it feels like something is being given back to the community. I commend Highways England and A-one+ for this - it has been a pleasure working with them over the last seven months.”
Mark Bennett of The Woodlark added:
“It’s great that we can use what would otherwise have gone to waste and give something back to the environment such as the bird and bat boxes.”
Later this year replacement hedgerows will be planted.