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Alternative methods of controlling weeds in the city to be trialled

Published: 18 October 2019

Other methods of suppressing weeds will now be looked at

Alternative methods of controlling weeds in the city are to be trialledl following concerns about glyphosate.

The Council is joining a select band of local authorities to take action after concerns were raised about the potential effects on health and the environment.

A motion calling for a trial of alternative methods of weed suppression and management has been backed by the City Council. The motion was put forward by City Councillors Ruth Williams and David Harvey.

Cllr David Harvey, Lead Councillor for Environment and City Management, said: “We’re proud in Exeter to be one of a number of councils across the country who are actively pursuing a green agenda, protecting our citizens and the environment for future generations to come.

“It’s time to look at doing things differently and that’s why the Council has decided to explore other methods of controlling weeds.”

The City Council is to trial alternative safe and cost effective methods of treating weeds in its parks and open spaces, as well as under contract for Devon County Council’s highways.

The trials will be carried out over the next three years and the City Council will assess the success or otherwise of the planned reduction strategy in glyphosate (which is still licensed for use in the UK) use with regular progress reports to Scrutiny Committee.

The motion that received unanimous backing from the City Council said that there was “increasing evidence of the dangers to both human health and biodiversity of continuing use of glyphosate weed killer.”

The motion argued: “Glyphosate is deemed ‘probably carcinogenic to humans’ by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The exposure route (breathing in or by absorption through the skin) is currently unclear. Two recent high profile court cases in the United States have resulted in Monsanto which manufactures glyphosate under the trade name ‘Roundup’ being successfully sued by individuals for causing their cancers.”

The motion said that in 2018 the GMB Union called for the UK Government to immediately ban glyphosate.

“Discussions about the use of this weed killer by local authorities have, until recently, been more concerned with the financial considerations of alternatives rather than the health and safety and biodiversity implications. However, this is now changing and a number of cities and local authorities in this country and abroad have taken a variety of measures to limit or exclude the use of glyphosate herbicide for the treatment of weeds,” the motion stated.

“Other local authorities, notably Glastonbury and Shaftesbury, in the South West have banned the use of glyphosate, and Lyme Regis and Wadebridge have declared they are pesticide-free. Bristol City Council are actively considering the introduction of a phased reduction in glyphosate use,” it added.

On calling for a trial of alternative methods, the Motion concluded: “This council has a duty of care to its citizens and staff and the use of glyphosate has a detrimental effect on biodiversity and the environment in general.”


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