H&F Council Halts Use of Chemical Weedkillers in Local Parks

Now working with contractors to replace herbicides with natural alternatives

Hammersmith & Fulham Council has halted the use of potentially harmful sprays in parks and open spaces - the first council in London to make he move.

The borough is now pioneering trials of chemical-free weedkillers.

The World Health Organisation recently branded a glyphosate-based weedkiller "probably carcinogenic to humans", while environmental campaigners have been calling for an end to their use due to their impact on wildlife, particularly bees.

H&F says it has been exploring innovative chemical-free alternatives, including the use of hot foam or hot steam, for the past six months and will implement trials of these in the near future.

"While there is some over the health risks of glyphosate-based chemicals, there is no debate that at H&F, the health and well-being of our residents is our priority and we recognise the importance of a green agenda in better supporting that," says Cllr Wesley Harcourt, H&F Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and Residents’ Services.

" We are one of the first councils in the UK to move away from glyphosates, and by taking this precautionary approach are leading the charge for a greener, healthier borough.

" It is vital that we find solutions that work in every part of the borough. This means looking for alternatives that protect the environment, do not put our residents in danger, but also allow us to carry on tackling the scourge of Japanese knotweed that can blight communities."

Locally, a petition has recently been launched asking H&F Council to ban dangerous pesticides. It says: " It is not acceptable that ourselves, our children and the animals we share our community with are being routinely exposed to these chemicals, whether we like it or not.

" This is a matter of great importance for those of us who care about each other’s health and the health of our children, our cats, our dogs and all the flora and fauna of this city, of course including our beloved bees."

The news is of particular interest to dog owners in Fulham, who were advised by vets in 2013 to avoid walking in Hurlingham Park, after a severe outbreak of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis led to the death of one pet and made some others seriously ill.

At the time the ground in Hurlingham Park was being restored following the annual Polo in the Park competition.

In 2013 the council responded by reassuring the public that it now tested all horticultural products used in the popular Fulham park, and had ruled it out as a cause of the illness.

Campaign group Pesticide Action Network has welcomed the new announcement. PAN UK Director, Keith Tyrell, says: "We warmly welcome H&F's decisive action in taking the decision to stop using these herbicides and hope to work closely with them on this project.

"They are definitely one of the UK leaders in this field and we look forward to seeing the results of their trials."

Previously, H&F’s contractors, Quadron, Pinnacle and Serco used various forms of glyphosate herbicides across the borough’s parks, roadsides and other public green spaces. The council has instructed them to stop using these herbicides.

June 10, 2016