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City to reconsider glyphosate: Council to replace or significantly reduce use

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Councillor Lea said that alternative maintenance methods being explored include new meadows, like those at Park Hill.

Sheffield City Council is reconsidering its use of glyphosate after 1,100 people signed a petition calling on the Council to stop using the weedkiller.

The petition is supported by Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, Sheffield Green Parents and the Green Party.

"We're aware that the evidence surrounding glyphosate usage is currently under review and we will await further guidance from central government on this matter," Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure Mary Lea told Now Then.

We have also been looking at alternatives to weed spraying

"However, we understand the concerns around the use of glyphosate and we have been looking in to various alternative methods to treat our parks and green spaces."

Lea said that the Council "share best practice with other authorities around the country to find the best ways to reduce the use of glyphosate" and that they "hope to replace or significantly reduce it in the near future."

Glyphosate kills weeds and invasive species and is the main ingredient in products like Roundup. Studies have shown that the substance also kills beneficial insects and reduces biodiversity.

In November 2018, a Californian court ordered Monsanto to pay $83 million (£64 million) in damages to a groundskeeper who developed terminal cancer after using Roundup.

Countries such as the Netherlands, France and Austria have banned or restricted the use of the weedkiller.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that Sheffield Council used 1,750 litres of glyphosate in 2018.

"Trials have just begun to test alternatives including natural occurring plant based acids that degrade into natural elements, and we will evaluate these trials in due course," said Cllr Lea.

"We have also been looking at alternatives to weed spraying including steam, hot water and foam spraying, along with traditional options of mulching."

"Some alternative maintenance methods are also being explored, such as not treating perimeters of parks and open spaces, adding meadows, and additional tree planting to further encourage habitat and biodiversity."

Lea stressed that the use of glyphosate meets EU Sustainable Use Directives and that it is currently licensed and approved for use in the public environment.

Sam Gregory

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