Highways boss defends use of herbicide in Swindon – calls criticism ‘scaremongering’
The use by Swindon Borough Council of a weedkiller which may cause cancer has been criticised by the Labour opposition.
Workers for Swindon Borough Council keep weeds on the town’s roads and pavements down by use of the herbicide glyphosate – it’s the chemical in Round Up.
It has been classified by the World Health organisation as “probably carcinogenic” but the European Food Safety Authority says glyphosate is ‘unlikely’ to cause cancer in humans. The European Commission recently granted the weedkiller another five-year licence
A motion put forward by Labour councillor Bob Wright for Thursday’s full council meeting says: “This council understands that glysophate is being used within the borough by council employees and/or contractors for weed control.
“The council calls for a ban on the use of glyphosate on all land accessible by the public, by council employees, council contractors and all other bodies, by April 2019 and asks the Cabinet Member to research alternative means of weed control and adopt a protocol on acceptable methods by April 2019.”
But the Conservative administration says the motion is politicking.
Cabinet member for environment and highways, Fionuala Foley said: “I consider this to be opportunist ‘scaremongering’ by Labour and is designed to sabotage the council’s good work in keeping our highways tidy.
“Swindon Borough Council takes its obligations to health and safety very seriously and only uses selected herbicides as part of a balanced, integrated management programme. Like most Councils across the country, we currently use glyphosate on the Highway.
“Current glyphosate application systems are safer to the user and to the public and have reduced the amount of chemical used.
“The concern with any pesticide application is how much finds its way into watercourse and ultimately the drinking water we use every day. The water authorities carry out thousands of sample tests each year and these test show that the water we drink has improved each year over the last 25 years, amenity use such as ours is very small compared to agriculture and even here modern application systems have improved water quality tenfold.”
The meeting will begin at 7pm on Thursday September 20 in the Civic Offices in Euclid Street.