Published: 09:26, 04 December 2019
| Updated: 09:35, 04 December 2019
A council has agreed to stop using weed killers in parks, gardens and play areas in a bid to save insects and children from harmful chemicals.
The innovative move comes from Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC), who agreed to phase out the use of all pesticides on its land and instead trial alternative ways to control weeds in these areas.
This could include biodegradable foam or hot steam treatments.
FHDC is the first authority in Kent to agree to such a ban.
The decision came after Cllr Connor McConville (Lab) filled a motion at the council's latest full council meeting.
He said: "There has been a 60% increase in the use of pesticides such as glyphosate in the UK since 1990.
"There is evidence to suggest that glyphosate and a wide range of other herbicides and pesticides may be harmful to human health.
"The use of pesticides and weed killers reduces biodiversity, impacting negatively on insects, birds and bees, in a time when the world is losing 2.5% of its insect population per-year.
"Harmful weed killer residues can creep into the food chain.
"Pets and children should not be playing in parks treated with such chemicals."
Cllr McConville said that other councils in the UK, such as Brighton, Bristol, Croyden, Trafford and Lewes, have already banned the use of glyphosate, which is listed as a probable carcinogen.
The motion received support from all members of the authority, including Cllr Georgina Treloar (Green) who feared the substances could be causing harm to bees and Cllr Jackie Meade (Lab) who re-iterated that children play in parks where the chemicals are sprayed.
'Pets and children should not be playing in parks treated with such chemicals...' - Cllr McConville
It was passed unanimously.
However, the motion does include several exceptions, such as the control of Japanese knotweed, or other invasive species, where there are currently no effective mechanical techniques available.
Instead, in cases of these plants glyphosate will be stem-injected, rather than sprayed, to reduce its spread in the environment.
There will also be an exception for Giant Hogweed, which is not safe to be dug out or removed by other means, and for the control of weeds on fine turf such as bowling greens and tennis courts.
FHDC has also vowed to write to the secretary of state for the environment, Theresa Villiers, to inform her of their opposition to glyphosate-based pesticides and calling for a similar UK-wide programme.