Petition - Call on Hampshire County Council to stop using glyphosates

Response from Hampshire County Council, June 2023

I am responding to the petition ‘Call on Hampshire County Council to Stop Using Glyphosate’ dated 15 May 2023.

The County Council appreciates your concern about the use of chemical control and has over a period of years reduced the treatment from two treatments per year to a single treatment with funding for a limited second treatment in targeted problem areas. 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, and non-urban areas, is where we have an incidence of an invasive weed, such as Japanese Knotweed, which we are required to control.

It is necessary for weeds to be controlled, 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 confirmed as being Glyphosate, which remains an approved chemical for use in amenity areas. Approvals of all such products, and how they are used in the UK, 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, using the Controlled Droplet Application method and not as a blanket spray. This minimises the amount of chemical applied and all but eliminates any issues of spray drift. Notwithstanding the above the County Council has and will continue will investigate and move towards; where appropriate and viable, more environmentally sensitive working methods, and to this end undertook a trial of several alternative methods in 2022. It is intended that the report on this trial will be published, but it found that other current methods were either less effective, had other environmental or safety impacts or cost more. For instance, Hot Foam which you advocate, whilst having good initial results, did not give the same degree of longer-term control. It also requires more equipment and additional treatments to be effective, making it more disruptive and expensive and with a reduced ability to treat sites with restricted access.

However, the trial did establish that weed growth was much reduced where there is a good standard of sweeping to remove the build-up of detritus in which weeds can grow. Working with colleagues in the district and borough councils who are responsible for sweeping, may in future, prove to be a way of at least reducing our use of chemical control.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Adams-King
Lead Executive Member for Universal Services