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The campaign

Campaigners in Petersfield have been protesting against the use of weedkillers by Hampshire County Council. The work is scheduled for this week.

Shine Radio’s environment correspondent Beth Svarovska spoke to activist Julie Yardley who says her campaign has attracted 400 signatures to a petition.

The campaign centres on a group of chemicals called glysophates. They are approved for use in the UK but campaigners believe they present a number of harms to people and the environment.

We also hear from Hampshire County Council which says it has changed the way it kills weeds and Petersfield Town Council which has a policy to reduce the use of pesticides.

A number of residents have chosen to cut out weeds near their properties by hand so the council will not have to spray them. Banners have been put-up to help protect verges in several places.

Campaigner Julie Yardley with ‘Lemonade’ who conveys educational information about the environment.

What the councils say

Hampshire County Council

Councillor Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Hampshire County Council and Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment, said:

“The County Council has an annual programme of weed spraying treatment and this is undertaken by a specialist and accredited contractor. Spraying is always undertaken in a safe and controlled way using a ‘controlled droplet application’ method, to prevent overspray, and the herbicide is only applied directly to the weeds, and not as a blanket spray. The purpose of the treatment is to keep our footways, kerbs and channels free of weeds as these can cause damage to the structure of the highway. An approved Glyphosate based product is used, which does not present any residual impact on the environment, and only hard surfaced areas of the highway are treated, and not grassed areas.”

When queried upon whether the use of quad bikes represented the methodology he referred to, a further statement was added to councillor Humby’s quotation:

“This year the contractor and the method of working has been changed. The treatment is now undertaken on foot, using the ‘Controlled Droplet Application’ method, where herbicide is applied as a spot treatment to weeds on hard surfaces only, and not grassed areas.

Petersfield Town Council

Cllr Phil Shaw, Mayor of Petersfield said:

Our Pesticide Policy states that it is the aim of the Council to stop using pesticides, by a phased reduction of use. Since that policy was introduced the use of pesticides, and glyphosate in particular, has reduced significantly. We know we still have further to go. To ensure progress is maintained, Cllr. Peter Clist (Chairman of the Grounds Committee) has asked that the issue is on the Grounds Committee agenda at least every six months so we can review progress and continue our search for alternatives.

East Hampshire District Council

East Hampshire District Council was approached for comment on 3 August 2021 but hadn’t responded by the time of publication.