Glyphosate weed killer could return to Brighton despite cancer fears Brighton News

The herbicide was banned in Brighton and Hove by the Greens more than four years ago because of fears it was linked to cancer.

Councillors from all parties signed a pledge to ban the chemical, but now the Labour council is deciding how best to tackle the city’s weed problem and using glyphosate is an option being considered.

In the 2023 local election manifesto, Labour promised to “wage war on the weeds that have been allowed to grow – making streets difficult and hazardous, especially with children and for the elderly and people with reduced mobility”.

The party also pledged not to return to “harmful glyphosate”.

Now it says none of the other methods of weed control have proven to be sufficient and many pavements and roads are now unsafe and in a state of disrepair.

The Argus: Labour said it would not use the chemical to tackle the weed problemsLabour said it would not use the chemical to tackle the weed problems (Image: The Argus)

Councillor Tim Rowkins said: “In our manifesto, we committed to tackling the weeds that have been allowed to grow wildly out of control on our pavements and roads for years.

“They present a trip hazard and render pavements inaccessible to many residents, including wheelchair users, parents and carers with buggies, and people with visual and mobility impairments. We simply cannot continue as we are.

“Even if we were able to resource manual removal on the scale required, we would only be taking off foliage above the surface. Roots would continue to grow, and the problem would continue to get worse year on year.”

The council said it would cost £369,000 each year to manually remove the required amount of weeds across the city.

It is considering using a “controlled droplet” method to apply glyphosate to weeds in a targeted way.

It said that “unlike conventional spraying using a pressurised mist, this treatment releases larger droplets under gravity alone”.

The Argus: Many pathways become overgrown in the summer monthsMany pathways become overgrown in the summer months (Image: The Argus)

Cllr Rowkins said: “This method uses a lower concentration of the active ingredient and is suspended in an oil that sticks to the target plant.

“We have thoroughly evaluated all of the alternatives and have concluded that we now have no choice but to act.

“However, we have gone above and beyond and found a safer and more environmentally friendly method. The ‘controlled droplet’ approach uses less active ingredient, greatly reduces the risk of drift and run-off and will therefore have a far less significant impact on biodiversity than a conventional application.

“This will be limited to pavements and roads only, and we will not be returning to the use of herbicides in any of our parks or green spaces.

READ MORE: Brighton council plans to tackle weeds problem

“As we have explored the options to tackle the city’s weeds issue, we have consulted with other local authorities. Those using the controlled droplet option report that it is just as effective as the conventional method, which is of course very encouraging.

“Any use of herbicide will be done on a trial basis and kept under review to unsure it is effective and provides good value for money for residents, and we will continue to look for alternatives as they become available.”

The city council said that any impact on biodiversity will be “minimal”.

The matter will be discussed at the city environment, South Downs and the sea committee on January 23.

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This notice was published: 2024-01-15 18:10:33

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