Why Calderdale Council is set to stop using glyphosate in parks and villages

Wellholme Park in Brighouse
Wellholme Park in Brighouse

Calderdale Council is set to stop using glyphosate within its parks and on verges due to concerns over health.

Council leaders will be asked to consider a report on the use by the Council of herbicides such as glyphosate, known as Roundup, across Calderdale’s towns and villages.

The recommendations within the report are for the Council to stop using glyphosate completely within its soft landscapes, such as parks and along roadside verges.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Councillor Susan Press said: “We have a real responsibility to balance protecting the environment for future generations and making sure that our local communities are safe, attractive and pleasant places to live.

“I welcome the opportunity to end the use of glyphosate completely in our green spaces; this is an important step for the Council and should bring benefits to our local wildlife and encourage biodiversity. This will help us to deliver one of our key commitments within our first 100 days programme.

“We will continue to explore alternative treatments for those areas which cannot be left to nature as our intention is to end glyphosate usage as soon as it is possible.”

A further report will be presented to the Cabinet, with fully costed plans which will allow the Council to decide to phase out the use of the herbicide within hard landscapes, such as street pavements and at the roadside.

This will allow the Council time to undertake trials into more environmentally sustainable methods to remove weeds.

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.

The Safer Cleaner Greener team will work with local horticultural groups and experts on herbicides to find suitable alternative treatments.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Coun Scott Patient said: “Over recent years there has been growing concern about the use of herbicides because of their potential impact on health and the damage that they can have on the environment.

“One of our ambitions for Vision 2024 is to preserve and protect the distinctive character of Calderdale, with its unique blend of rural and urban areas, so it’s vital that we seek alternative methods which are kinder to our wildlife and countryside.”

In 2016 the Council set targets to reduce its glyphosate use by 10% a year over three years and this has been achieved, the service is currently using around half of the amount initially used.

The Safer Cleaner Greener team has already trialled some alternative weed treatments including foam application, steam methods and geranium extract.

The Cabinet will also need to consider whether to stop weed control in some areas, allowing them to revert to a more natural state. This should encourage greater biodiversity; however it is not without risk.

A build-up of weeds within drainage channels could increase the risk of flooding and paths and paving may be damaged if plants grow through and crack the surface.

Some areas may begin to look overgrown which could have a negative impact on tourism, however it is hoped that the new alternative methods and application of best practice learned from other local authorities will help to resolve this.

The item will be discussed at the meeting of Calderdale Council’s Cabinet on Monday July 29 at Halifax Town Hall, starting at 6pm.