Date issued: 18 September 2020
Colchester Borough Council’s Environment and Sustainability Panel has agreed to end the use of glyphosate-based products for general maintenance, by the end of March 2021.
Following the council’s commitment to end the use of potentially harmful glyphosate weed killer, in November 2019, it has been developing a managed approach to phase out glyphosate use across Colchester’s green spaces, discussing alternative options and identifying new opportunities to enhance biodiversity.
The Environment and Sustainability Panel, which met on 17 September, agreed a timeline to eliminate the use of glyphosate-based products across the borough by March 2021.
Since April 2020 the council has already taken several actions to reduce glyphosate use:
- Stop spaying in all children’s play parks (74 sites)
- Stop spraying in around West Mersea beach huts (384 huts)
- Stop spraying on The Recreation Ground, off Old Heath Road
The next step is to stop the use of glyphosate-based products across all sports grounds, closed churchyards and Colchester Borough Council managed highway verges.
These changes are being made to encourage greater biodiversity in the council's green spaces and follows the announcement last week of a change to the council’s grass cutting regime in areas around Castle Park to create wildflower verges. These will all benefit pollinators and other insects, which are hugely important for lots of things, including the regulation of the natural environment and the food system.
Councillor Mark Cory, Leader of Colchester Borough Council, said: “At the Cabinet meeting, in November 2019, I promised we would phase out the use of glyphosate herbicides as soon as practically possible, so I’m really pleased that we now have a final end date.
“We are ahead of many councils by taking this step to protect our residents and our environment. We will work with other bodies to end its use and work on safe and ecologically sound alternatives.
“Since we set up the Environmental Task and Finish Group and declared the Climate Emergency in July 2019, we have been working on several projects to improve biodiversity, including The Colchester Woodland Project. This is one major step but should bring many benefits to our local wildlife.”
An exception will be made for the treatment of some invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed, which are a serious threat to biodiversity. With these invasive species, the chemical is safely injected into the plant.