Banning glyphosate will come at a cost to Derry ratepayers

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Banning the herbicide glyphosate will come at a cost for ratepayers, the Council’s Environment & Regeneration Committee has been told.

But alternative weed-killing options are being explored in an attempt to reduce the use of the herbicide. Back in February a motion tabled by Sinn Féin Councillor Patricia Logue that called for the disuse of the chemical, except when dealing with Japanese Knotweed, was passed unanimously by the Council. This came in response to a series of health warnings about the herbicide.

For example, in 2015 the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) concluded that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

In a report to the E&R Committee’s November meeting the Council’s Head of Environment Conor Canning explained that herbicides containing glyphosate were used for the control of weeds mainly on hard surfaces but also on some grassed areas.

However the use of “the herbicide is applied by trained operatives under strict guidelines in small doses only where and when required – i.e. it is not blanket sprayed across entire hard surfaced areas”.

Mr. Canning said the chemical was the only effective remedy for a number of noxious weeds including Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed, which the Council has a statutory obligation to control.

And the use of hot foam as an alternative to glyphosate would result in “significantly increased carbon emissions”.

“Banning or reducing the use of glyphosate-based products will come at a cost. The Crop Protection Agency (whose members include major producers of pesticides and herbicides) stated that banning glyphosate-based products would cost councils an estimated £228 million in higher costs to use alternatives,” reported Mr. Canning.

Nonetheless, “the office team will also look at reducing or stopping weed control activities in some areas where the amenity impact will be minimal and the action have positive biodiversity impacts”.