Rooftop gardens on Leicester bus shelters help bees pollinate

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

A network of bus shelters popping up across the UK city of Leicester are part of a program to replace and revamp the city’s bus stops. 

Nicknamed ‘Bee Bus Stops’ the 30 plant-topped Living Roof bus shelters are topped with gardens of wildflowers and Sedum plants, a favourite among pollinating bees, whose numbers have been in decline over recent years. 

Besides their natural benefit to bees, the shelters are positively contributing towards biodiversity and climate resilience, absorb rainwater falling on the roof, help to reduce the ‘Urban Heat Island Effect’, capture particulates from the air, and help make the city a greener and happier place. 

The shelters are being built in partnership with Clear Channel, the UK’s leading out-of-home media business, with more than 35,000 outdoor advertising sites nationwide. In a 10-year contract between the Leicester City Council, Clear Channel is overhauling all 479 bus shelters in the city with eco-friendly alternatives, at no cost to the council.

The network of solar-powered Living Roof shelters marks a first for any UK city and is one of many steps being taken by Leicester City Council to respond to the climate emergency. 

Clear Channel’s Living Roof product has been designed in accordance with The Green Roof Organisation’s GRO Green Roof Code – an industry code of best practice, written in collaboration with Living Roof experts. 

Besides the Bee Bus Stops, wherever feasible, other bus shelters in the city will be fitted with solar panels, powering smart lighting. 

“We’ve already had some fantastic feedback from people who are as excited as we are to see this bee and butterfly friendly revamp of bus shelters taking shape,” said Leicester deputy mayor Adam Clarke, who leads on environment and transportation. 

“This is just one of many benefits of the citywide revamp of our bus shelters. The new, modern shelters will be great for passengers and the mix of solar power and living roofs is another step forward for our ambition to be a carbon-neutral and climate-adapted city by 2030. The new shelters will also be a perfect complement to our work to deliver a new, carbon-neutral bus station at St Margaret’s,” he said.

Rooftop gardens on Leicester bus shelters help bees pollinate

The project to replace Leicester’s bus shelters is on track to be completed by late next year. Clear Channel is working with partners to ensure all materials from the old shelters are recycled, upcycled, or otherwise avoid landfill. 

Clear Channel MD Will Ramage describes Leicester City’s move to install environmentally conscious bus shelters across the city as “a huge and decisive step” towards reshaping the UK’s streets for the benefit of the environment and the public”. 

“We know that true change comes when we start to roll out these types of innovation at scale. We’d love to see the Living Roofs in every town and city across the UK and Europe, having a tangible and positive effect on our planet.” 

Bee Bus Stops have already been installed in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, playing a key part in supporting the national ‘Bed & Breakfast for Bees’ Pollinator Strategy. 

Indications are that strategy is working: the Netherlands’ 2021 National Bee Census showed bee numbers remain steady in Dutch cities.

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill

Robert Stockdill is a content writer with more than 30 years of experience in five countries. His style has built upon award-winning success in news and features in the print media to leadership in digital communication, spanning news websites, social media, magazines, brochures, and contributing to books. Recognising the devastating impact of consumer behaviour on the planet and wanting to help make a difference Robert launched Viable.Earth as a platform to celebrate positive contributions by brands, companies and individuals towards reducing environmental impact and improve sustainability – especially in the fields of fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle, and transportation.

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