Hammersmith & Fulham Council is the first council in London to halt the use of potentially harmful sprays in parks and open spaces. The borough is pioneering trials of chemical-free weedkillers.
The scrapping of controversial glyphosate-based weedkillers, which were used by council contractors, is a key part of H&F’s ambition to protect residents’ health and become the greenest local authority in the country.
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.
For the past six months, H&F has been exploring innovative chemical-free alternatives, including the use of hot foam or hot steam, and will implement trials of these in the near future.
“While there is some debate 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,” said 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.”
Campaign organisation, Pesticide Action Network helps local authorities make the change to chemical-free herbicides.
PAN UK Director, Keith Tyrell, said: "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.