Council has no plans to stop using glyphosate weedkiller linked to cancer

Calderdale Liberal Democrats have questioned the Council over whether it plans to stop using the weedkiller that the World Health Organisation has declared is ‘probably carcinogenic’ . You can read the question asked by Liberal Democrat Councillor Marilyn Greenwood and the reply she received at the last Council meeting below.



As a number of British local authorities and, indeed, whole countries have banned the use of glyphosate as a weed killer because of concerns about its detrimental effects on health of those who use it and on others, would the portfolio-holder give details of any plans this Council has to stop using glyphosates and switch to safer alternatives?


  • Glyphosate is licensed for use in the UK and so the real issue is with the licensing system/national government, rather than users at a local level.
  • We use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions/industry guidelines, our operatives are fully trained and the Council’s Health and Safety Manager is content with the arrangements in place.
  • In spring 2016, Council spraying operatives completed an extensive training review, covering the use of all pesticides and focussing specifically on glyphosate.
  • We have listened to concerns and our aim is to reduce the amount used by 10% year on year, until 2021.  We have already achieved a 10% reduction this year which was made possible by spot spraying as opposed to blanket spraying, using low volume nozzles and reducing spray bands.
  • We are also actively researching alternative products but we have not yet found anything which is as cost-effective (this is not just about price – we would never put cost above the health of our communities, and particularly children – but is about whether it does what it’s meant to do, i.e. kills weeds effectively).
  • We are in regular contact with other Councils, contractors who use alternative treatments, the Health & Safety Executive and the Chemicals Regulations Directorate (who confirmed on 29 June 2016 that the use of glyphosate within the EU has been extended for a further 18 months, until 31 December 2017).
  • Of course we understand why people are concerned and we welcome dialogue about how we can continue to manage Calderdale’s public realm and green spaces  in a safe and effective manner.
  • This is one of the reasons why the Communities Scrutiny Panel has undertaken a detailed review of the use of pesticides and has already reported their findings to Cabinet. The issue will be further considered by Scrutiny as part of a review of Safer, Cleaner, Greener in November.

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