Protesters call for St Albans council to stop using toxic weed killer

PUBLISHED: 14:15 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:15 10 August 2020

Around 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St Albans

Around 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St Albans

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More than 30 people gathered outside St Albans’ council offices on Saturday to protest against the use of a “deadly” weed killer which has seen the bee population dwindle.

Around 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St AlbansAround 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St Albans

The demonstration, organised by St Albans’ Extinction Rebellion branch, called for the council to ban the use of Glyphosate in the city.

Glyphosate has already been banned or restricted by nearly 40 UK councils, yet campaigners say St Albans council contractors continue to use large quantities of the deadly product in public spaces.

The substance reportedly kills all plants, many insects including bees, and damages the environment. It has also been identified as a possible carcinogen – a substance capable for causing cancer – in humans.

St Albans resident Clare Harvey said: “Bees are the most important pollinator of many of the crops on which human life depends. Without bees human existence is threatened. Put simply, if we want to live, bees must be allowed to thrive.”

Around 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St AlbansAround 30 people turned out to protest against the use of weed killer Glyphosate in St Albans. Picture: Extinction Rebellion St Albans

Beekeeper and Greenpeace St Albans member Juliet Voisey added: “We’ve seen huge destruction of the bee population. They are now much more prone to diseases. Glyphosate destroys the habitat on which they depend.”

The group – many of whom donned bee costumes during the protest – is calling on St Albans council to immediately ban the use of Glyphosate by their contractors.

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They are also asking residents to sign its e-petition on the council website, which would be debated at the next full council meeting should it reach 500 signatures.

A SADC spokesman told the Herts Ad: “The council’s contractor uses Glyphosate to spot treat weed in parks, green spaces, housing sites, cemeteries and a number of other areas managed on behalf of partners organisations. In addition, weeds are treated on adopted highways for Hertfordshire County Council.

“To completely move away from the use of chemical weed treatments and maintain the same level of weed clearance would increase costs by over £100,000 per year.

“The council is exploring options to move away from Glyphosate including considering a reduced programme of weeding. This will prove challenging in areas of hard surface as weeds could damage the existing infrastructure such as roads.

“An academic study was conducted in Thanet in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire. It is called Best Practice Guidance Notes for Integrated and non-chemical Amenity Hard Surface Weed Control.

“This study recommends an integrated approach with chemical treatments used only where needed. The council plans to work with our county council counterparts and other stakeholders to determine the most appropriate level and type of weed control in a given location.

“This will be done with the preservation of finite natural resources and minimisation of carbon emissions in mind.”

To read the University of Hertfordshire’s report, go to emr.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/BPWeeds2015web1.pdf. To support the petition, go to stalbans.gov.uk/petitions.


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