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Liberal Democrats on Kent County Council

Question by Ian Chittenden to Mike Whiting, Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport & Waste.

July 11, 2019 7:34 PM

I'd firstly like to thank the Cabinet Member for his response at the last County Council meeting regarding glyphosate-based weed killers. However, I still have significant concerns about the way this chemical is being used within Kent, particularly on roads and
footpaths where it is being allowed to run-off into the water system. Indeed, the official product guidance for Roundup ProActive which is used by KCC states, 'keep out of drains, sewers, ditches and water ways.' Other manufacturers of similar glyphosate-based weed killers refer to their product as hazardous waste and recommend even more stringent controls.

The number of successful lawsuits relating to glyphosate is ever-increasing and past experiences from asbestos and DDT have demonstrated that legislators are often far too slow to react when faced with conflicting commercial interests. KCC as a local authority has a responsibility to guard against damage to our eco-systems and to mitigate health risks to its residents wherever possible. I therefore put it to the Cabinet Member, will he urgently reconsider the council's position on glyphosate usage?

Answer

Thank you, Mr Chittenden. As stated in my previous response, in the UK, glyphosate is approved by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for use on hard surfaces and amenity areas and we follow the guidelines of the HSE when treating weeds.

Glyphosate Biactive is specified within the current highway contracts and is used to spot treat weeds within these hard surfaces. The contract specifies that the product should not be applied during rain or in a manner that will cause it to reach the water system.

Glyphosate is the most cost effective and efficient way of controlling weeds within KCC's highways, estates and green spaces. To remove it would increase the cost of preserving the integrity of our assets and meeting statutory requirements significantly.

However, I fully understand residents' concerns over glyphosates use and I have therefore asked our highways team to take a further look at the feasibility of alternative technologies and report back to me with their findings.

As a County Council we will of course also continue to focus on minimising Glyphosate use where we can in line with current best practice guidelines.