A MAJOR conservation project on one of the longest “green walls” in the country is under way.

Work has started on the Madeira Drive retaining wall on Brighton seafront to protect more than 90 different species of coastal plants, which spread 20 metres high and 1.2 kilometres a bug the 200-year-old structure.

Brighton and Hove City Council has been working with the help of Brighton and Hove Building Green and the Ecology Consultancy to prune back the foliage and enlarge the bed at the foot of the wall.

Workers will carry out general concrete repair work in the autumn to reserve the area as a habitat for plants and wildlife.

Last year the green wall – which is on the north side of Duke’s Mound on Brighton seafront was designated as a local wildlife site by the city council.

Among the plants that will be protected by the works are the hoary stock, a coastal plant that is common on the south coast, cow parsley, which grows mostly through March and June, foxglove, which blooms in midsummer, and a fig tree and ferns.

One of the major features of the wall is a display of Japanese spindle, which was established in the 19th Century when the wall was first built, to help improve the appearance of the area.

It is believed to be among the oldest surviving species of that plant in the UK.

Work on the project, which will include health checks on the plants and repairing any damage to the concrete wall, got under way this week. It is hoped it will be com- pleted before the next bird nesting season, which runs from March 1 to July 31.

It is not currently known how much the repairs will cost.

James Farrell, from Brighton and Hove Building Green, said: “The green wall is over 150 years old, supports 90 plant species, and is now the only Site of Nature Conservation Importance of its kind in the UK.

“It forms a vital part of our natural and built heritage and has been under threat due to the deteriorating state of the East Cliff face.

“The work that has started this week west of Duke’s Mound will safeguard the cliff face and green wall for the future.”

Councillor Ian Davey, deputy leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “The variety of plants grow- ing on the Madeira Drive retaining wall makes it one of the most important ‘green walls’ in the country.

“The plants and the wall are part of the seafront environment that we want to protect, providing a haven for wildlife and a source of enduring interest for people.”