Farm Ireland

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Calls for spraying of roadsides with herbicides to be cut out

Image: Irish Wildlife Trust
Image: Irish Wildlife Trust
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is urging the local authorities and members of the public to avoid the use of harmful herbicides and weed-killers, particularly on our roadsides.

It says the casual use of noxious chemicals in public areas seems to be commonplace across the Irish countryside and this leaves unsightly dead vegetation as well as harming important habitats for wild flowers and pollinating insects.

It also highlights that the use of chemical sprays is implicated as one of the main drivers in the extinction of pollinators, such as bees. 

According to the all-Ireland Pollinator Plan, published by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, half of Ireland’s bee species have undergone ‘substantial declines’ since 1980 while a third of species are now threatened with extinction.

The IWT says data from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine shows that sales of pesticides and herbicides has steadily increased in recent years, to 3,121 tonnes of active ingredient in 2015 (an increase of 7% on similar figures from 2013).

It also says the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted the issue of pesticide residues in water courses and drinking water supplies stating that it is an issue which “has emerged as a significant water quality issue in 2015”.

Their data showed that 61 drinking water supplies failed the concentration limits in 2015, a startling jump from 28 only a year earlier, it says.

The IWT would like to see tighter regulation on the use of herbicides and pesticides which would prohibit ‘over the counter’ sales.

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Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Campaigns Officer, says “Hedgerows and roadside verges are among the few remaining habitats left in Ireland for wildlife, it is heart breaking to see so many of them sprayed with chemicals every summer – frequently for little apparent reason.” 

“While most chemical use is for agricultural purposes unregulated spraying for everyday garden and public landscaping use is a significant blight on otherwise beautiful, and flower rich, roadsides.

“Herbicides are essential in the fight against alien invasive plant species, such as Japanese Knotweed or Rhododendron, and for this reason we are opposed to a blanket ban,” he said.

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