‘We should use less pesticides in public parks’
Green Party councillor Steven Matthews called on the council to reduce the use of pesticides such as glyphosate for weed control in public parks and playgrounds. In a notice of motion at last week's meeting, he suggested that alternatives could be used, such as vinegar, foam or steam applications.
'In the interest of protecting pollinating insects and local ecology some areas could be considered to allow wild plants to grow,' said Cllr Matthews.
In its response, the council said that the use of glyphosate was re-approved by the European Union in December 2017. 'It is one of the most effective and useful tools that the Councils Parks Department have in controlling weeds within the Municipal District. Notwithstanding this the council have minimised its use in public parks and playgrounds, it would typically be applied once a year, particularly around fence lines and other border areas.'
Officials said that glyphosate is a systematic translocated weed killer. This means that it is absorbed by the plant foliage and moves to other parts such as the root system, tubers or rhizomes. It is therefore very effective in killing perennial weeds and generally one application is sufficient.
In contrast to this vinegar, foam and steam are contact weed killers. In this regard they only kill what they come into contact with and will leave the root structure intact. For this reason they are less effective and would require more regular application.
'It is worth pointing out that horticultural vinegar (acetic acid) differs from household vinegar in typically being 20 per cent concentrate instead of 5 per cent,' they said. 'In concentrations over 11 percent, acetic acid can burn skin and cause eye damage, and concentrations of 20 percent and above are corrosive to tin, aluminium, iron, and concrete and can even cause blindness.
'It is therefore a hazardous chemical in its own right and staff would require training and suitable protective equipment prior to its use or application.'
The council will consider the merits of leaving areas of parkland uncut should any be nominated or identified.