Petition set up to stop use of controversial pesticide chemical in Havering

Gardener Matt Coe hoes weeds out in the Birch Grove Yeo Valley's Organic Garden, in Blagdon, Somerse

Havering residents are calling on the council to use a "safe non-chemical alternative" to glyphosate. - Credit: PA

A group of Havering residents has set up a petition calling for the use of a controversial pesticide chemical to be halted in the borough. 

The petition asks Havering Council to find an alternative weed killer to glyphosate, which is the subject of a long-running controversy over its safety for animals and humans. 

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".

The Recorder contacted the council and can confirm that it uses glyphosate pesticides "to control weed growth on highways and council land". 

A spokesperson from Havering Council said: "The use of glyphosate for weed spraying is common amongst local authorities in the UK and considered a safe practice throughout Europe.

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"The product we use is a ‘clean label’ product, and doesn’t carry a COSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) health warning."

Co-ordinator of residential group Havering Friends of the Earth, Ian Pirie, also notes the operatives who have been spraying glyphosate have “not been wearing any protective masks”.

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In response to this, the council spokesperson said: “Our contractor, SH Goss, have completed a risk assessment for using the product, and there is no requirement for their operatives to wear a mask while spraying. 

“Alternative products have been considered and trialled, but these are too expensive and ineffective on highways.”

The petition, called Pesticide-Free Havering, is organised by Hornchurch's Gina Must and already has 37 signatures, but aims to get over 100.  

When it is ready, the petition will be sent to Cllrs Damian White and Osman Dervish along with a letter requesting the council change the current pesticides used in Havering.   

Ian, who lives in Upminster Bridge, said wildlife should be "protected and not destroyed”. 

In addition to this, the 77-year-old noted as bees are in decline, the council should be going further to protect them. 

33-year-old Gina said: "Pesticides are poisons and they are designed to kill living things so it makes no sense to spray them all over the town."

She added: "Alternatives are readily available so it's about time Havering gets onboard." 

View the petition at

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