Havering groups continue pressure to halt use of pesticide chemical

Gardener Fay Sizer digs in compost to the soil in the Red and Lime Garden at Yeo Valley's Organic Ga

The groups would like the controversial pesticide to be banned in Havering. - Credit: PA

Two Havering groups have expressed “serious concerns” about the use of a pesticide used to control weeds in the borough.  

This follows a petition, signed by over 200 people, which called for the use of glyphosate to be halted in Havering.

It is controversial - in 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) ruled glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic”, but last year, the United States Environmental Protection Agency said the chemical posed "no risks of concern to human health".  

Havering Friends of the Earth and Pesticide Free Havering are again urging the council to rethink its use.  

Co-ordinator of Havering Friends of the Earth, Ian Pirie, said the group are “concerned about the health of residents, their pets and the wellbeing of our natural environment”.  

A spokesperson from Havering Council said it "regularly reviews" its procedures to ensure the most "effective method" for controlling weeds in a "safe way" is used. 

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They added: "In line with local authorities across the UK and throughout Europe, we are still currently using Glyphosate to control weed growth on highways and council land.

"We also remind residents that the product we use is a ‘clean label’ product, and doesn’t carry a COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) health warning.”

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However, Ian said its use has been “restricted” in many boroughs with some banning it altogether, such as Brighton and Colchester.  

Ian claims he has contacted council contractors SH Goss and Cllr Osman Dervish about the group's concerns, but is yet to receive a response, and believes its use “comes down to costs”. 

“We are urging the council to ban glyphosate altogether," he said. "Weeds only have to be ‘controlled’ where they are damaging property or buildings (eg buddleia in tarmac or in brick walls) or causing a hazard. 

“Other methods must be found to deal with weeds – the public need to be made aware of the dangers of pesticides, and we believe that people can even be brought onside to assist with weeds where necessary.  

“Why not encourage the public to “adopt” a verge, or an area of green around a tree, to plant flowers in? We would see a much more beautiful and healthier environment.” 

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