Petition - Stop using pesticides in Petersfield

Response from Hampshire County Council, August 2021

I am responding to the petition ‘Stop Using Pesticides in Petersfield’ that you submitted on 5 August 2021.

The County Council appreciates your concern about the use of chemical control and has over a period of years reduced the number of treatment to a single application each year, to the majority of the network. We also limit the treatment to hard surfaced areas of the highway (footways, kerbs and channels) and do not treat grassed areas. The exception to not treating grassed areas, is where we have an incidence of an invasive weed; such as Japanese Knotweed, which we are required to control. In support of this, the agency agreements we have in place with the various district and borough councils, for the maintenance of highway grassed areas, precludes the use of herbicides.

It is necessary to control weeds as they can damage the fabric of the highway and if allowed to grow unchecked, present a potential trip hazard to blind and partially sighted users of the highway. Also, historically their presence has been seen to give an unkept appearance to an area and has given rise to complaints.

The County Council therefore currently has an approved programme of highway weed treatment, which is undertaken by a specialist contractor employing appropriately trained personnel. The herbicide used is Glyphosate, which remains an approved chemical for use in amenity areas. Approvals of all such products, and how they are used in the U.K, is now the responsibility of the Chemicals Regulation Division of the Health and Safety Executive who have approved its continued use up to 2025.

The chemical is only applied to the weeds, and not as a blanket spray; using the Controlled Droplet Application method. This minimises the amount of chemical applied and all but eliminates any issues of spray drift.

Notwithstanding the above the County Council will investigate and move towards; where appropriate and viable, more environmentally sensitive working methods, but other current methods either are less effective, have other environmental impacts or safety impacts or cost more.

Cllr Russell Oppenheimer
Executive Member for Highways Operations