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Campaigners ‘flabbergasted’ as Wiltshire Council refuse to ban dangerous pesticide

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WILDLIFEcampaigners have said that they are ‘flabbergasted’ by Wiltshire’s Council’s decision to continue using controversial pesticides.

Councillors have voted down a proposal to end the use of glyphosate to control weeds –  a pesticide that has been banned by other councils, including Melksham Town Council; and in some countries over fears about its health risks and effects on the environment.

The motion, discussed at a meeting last month, to end its use was ‘watered-down’, with councillors instead voting in favour of a proposal to continue using the pesticide until an alternative method that is as equally effective becomes available.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for highways, transport and waste, spoke against the ‘ban’ explaining that whilst the council is using an increasing number of methods to physically remove weeds, the pesticide remains an ‘important tool’ for the council to control urban weed growth.

Bowerhill resident Sue Tweedie, who has campaigned for the ban of glyphosate, told Melksham News, “I find this so unbelievable! Ending the use of glyphosate is one of the things put forward in the government’s new environment bill. And Dr Gary Mantle from the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust has called on the council asking them to call a ecological emergency as well. I am absolutely flabbergasted! 

“I’m disgusted that they haven’t out-right banned it. Why do they have to wait? Why can’t they be leaders and not just followers? It incenses me! Other counties have banned it, and it’s been banned in some countries – the United States has banned it. There’s too much evidence about the damage this pesticide is doing to our environment, including the run-off into our waterways.

“What’s wrong with Wiltshire?! Let’s help our wildlife, not hinder it – the fight continues!”

As reported in the Melksham News last year, Wiltshire Council currently sprays residential areas and roads with the pesticide glyphosate – also known as ‘Round-Up’ – twice yearly across large parts of the county, including Melksham, Bowerhill and the surrounding villages.

At last month’s meeting, cllr Wayman said, “We do try to avoid using glyphosate as much as possible, but there are some weeds, such as Japanese knotweed, that cannot be dealt with unless you use glyphosate.

“Having increased expenditure this year on the appearance of our highways and town centres, I think it will be a real shame to ‘spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar’ and so I cannot support this motion and urge others not to do so. Bear in mind we use it in minimal quantities and we are very careful how we use it.”

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