Response to reports about use of weed killers in Hackney
Cllr Feryal Demirci responds to a recent Hackney Gazette article with the headline "Weed-killer 'a risk to health'".
Glyphosate is the world’s best-selling weed killer and is internationally approved for use on hard surfaces for targeted treatment of weeds. It is commonly used by local authorities across the country to treat pavements and is widely available in DIY shops for use in gardens and paths.
Our professional contractor does not do “blanket spraying”, but uses a lance to target live weeds as the product only works on green, living plants and does not enter the soil beneath pavements. The vehicles are adapted so that they can be driven safely on pavements very slowly, using one hand to steer and one hand to spray weeds. Our procedures have been independently assessed as safe by the Health and Safety Executive.
Removing weeds by hand would cost £500,000 a year and be less effective than using herbicides. If we let weeds grow uncontrolled they would look unsightly and damage pavements, which would have to be repaired at great cost to the tax payer and cause hazards to pedestrians. Litter and detritus collects around excessive weed growth, so our streets would also be less clean.
The Friends of the Earth report referred to deals primarily with the use of glyphosate in agriculture. There is no evidence that using glyphosate to target weeds on pavements is dangerous to the environment or to humans. We will continue to follow government guidance on its use to keep Hackney’s streets clean and weed-free.
Cllr Feryal Demirci, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Hackney Council