Petition launched to encourage Warwick district to go pesticide free - The Leamington Observer

Petition launched to encourage Warwick district to go pesticide free

Leamington Editorial 24th Aug, 2022   0

A PETITION to ban the use of pesticides in Warwick district is racking up signatures – but the council has ruled out any move to go chemical free, for now.

The petition, posted on by resident Sara Lever, has reached some 500 signatures and counting, in a bid to encourage Warwick District Council (WDC) to go pestiicide free by 2025.

So far 40 councils across the country have gone pesticide free and it is hoped WDC will follow.

As stated on the petition web page, the use of pesticides is having a “devastating” effect on wildlife and the implications are far-reaching. Pollinators and insects are in massive decline and are needed to pollinate more than 80 per cent of food crops in Europe.

The decrease in insect populations in turn has a knock-on effect on the birds that feed on them and small mammals such as hedgehogs.

Pesticide use also contributes to habitat loss, pollutants and climate change. Parks, road verges and other green spaces which usually form a wildlife-friendly habitat network to protect and encourage wildlife are being destroyed by pesticide use.

Pesticides also threaten human health – with some studies linking pesticide use to cancer.

According to petition poster Sara, there are ways to control weeds without chemicals such as using mechanical methods like flame, foam and hot water treatment or electronic systems for dealing with invasive species such as Japanese knotweed.

She continued that she wanted WDC to be pesticide-free by 2025 by taking a number of actions. Ultimately she would like to see the council committing to phasing out all pesticides – which include herbicides such as glyphosate, fungicides, insecticides and synthetic insecticides – in all WDC managed spaces, including parks, playgrounds, gardens, verges, pathways, roads, pavements and street infrastructure.

Contractors must also use pesticide-free weeding methods, she says. There are many viable and cost-effective alternatives which are available and already in use by many other councils across the UK.

Sara added: “The only acceptable use of toxic weed killers will be to treat illegal and notifiable noxious weeds for example giant hogweed, but only when these are not responding to treatment by non-toxic alternative methods.”

She also encouraged WDC to create and run a communcations campaign to accompany the pesticide phase-out to help residents to understand the change in management and its benefits to their health and biodiversity.

A spokesperson for WDC said the council had been actively working on the reduction and/or elimination of any kind of pesticide on public land and in green spaces but a complete ban was not a viable option for a number of reasons.

The spokesperson continued: *Alternatives looked at included foam, heat guns, and steam. Unfortunately these will only kill off the surface of the weed and not the actual roots, resulting in regrowth in a short space of time. The machinery used for these applications also comes with their own risks, for example boiling hot steam or water and flames which in the public environment is not ideal.

“Our contractor operatives are fully trained in the use of pesticide and we do keep the use down to a minimum. We will continue to look to explore viable options as the industry moves forward.

“Warwick District Council has always been an advocate of creating new meadow areas and habitat suitable for biodiversity and will continue to do for the benefit of the local area.”

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