29th July Calderdale Council Cabinet will discuss cutting back on glyphosate use

At a meeting in Halifax Town on 29 July (starting at 6pm) the Cabinet will consider a report that recommends Calderdale Council stops using glyphosate within its parks and on roadside verges. It calls these “soft landscapes”.

However the Cabinet has to wait for another report before considering whether to stop the use of the herbicide within hard landscapes, such as street pavements and at the roadside. This report will include fully costed plans.

The reason given for the delay is that the Council needs time to undertake trials into more environmentally sustainable methods to remove weeds.

As we said last time the Council put out a press release about reducing glyphosate use – they are kicking the can down the road. Calderdale Council have had glyphosate reduction on their agenda since 2016! Is 3 years not time enough to trial alternatives to glyphosate on pavements and roadsides?

And since so many other Councils have already carried out such trials and decided to end the use of glyphosate, why can’t the Council use their data? One English  pavement and roadside is pretty much the same as another, in terms of the weeds they sprout. Although Calderdale Council do say they will apply best practice learned from other local authorities.

So what is taking them so long?

For reasons best known to themselves, the Council has decided the Safer Cleaner Greener team will work with local horticultural groups and experts on herbicides to find suitable alternative treatments.

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

Presumably these didn’t work satisfactorily, or they would have already switched to them. It would be interesting to know if the problem was cost or ineffectiveness.

Calderdale Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities, Cllr Susan Press said:

“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.”

The Council’s press release says 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 there could be problems.  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.

The Council will continue to use glyophosate for some invasive species such as Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed.