Research estimates council cost of banning glyphosate as much as £228m

Research commissioned by the Crop Protection Association has estimated the cost of banning weed killer for amenity use would cost local authorities as much as £228 million.

Banning glyphosate could prove costly for local authorities - image: Flickr/Nate Grigg
Banning glyphosate could prove costly for local authorities - image: Flickr/Nate Grigg

Currently 30 local authorities are understood to be under pressure from residents and anti-weed killer organisations to ban glyphosate and other chemicals being used on their roads, pavements, parks and other green spaces.

If local authorities all went ahead with a ban the cost would be enough to pay for the salaries of 11,438 adult social care workers, the researchers judged.

The Chairman of the Amenity Forum called on politicians to take a scientific approach to the issue.

Professor John Moverley said: "At a time when local authorities are faced with acute budget pressures, it is important that decisions are based upon science and evidence. Nobody working in the professional amenity sector would wish to do anything to endanger public health and safety and always makes use of all options available.

"Any weed killer coming to market undertakes rigorous testing before it is released and during its use. Weed killers used in the amenity sector have been proven time and time again to be safe – no less than 28 independent global regulators and thousands of scientific studies over 40 years back this up.

"They are used across the diverse and important amenity sector as part of an integrated approach, keeping our railways running, maintaining our world class sports surfaces, for woodlands and much more. This research has just highlighted the costs of keeping pavements weed free.

The total amenity cost would be substantially more. As the voluntary initiative for the sector, we seek to provide an independent voice promoting best practice in all aspects of weed and pest management. We recognize concerns can arise but, in dealing with them, we need a rational debate based upon science and facts. The management of weeds and pests in amenity impacts upon every UK citizen’’

A number of local authorities have considered and rejected proposals to ban glyphosate after trials proved alternatives would cost more. In addition local authority published data shows the up-front investment costs of alternatives to glyphosate based weed killers.

For example Edinburgh City Council’s trial last year judged that the local authority would need a capital expenditure totalling £852,000 for non-glyphosate alternatives, while Aberdeen Council published analysis which says the local authority would need an additional £1m for capital outlays in the first year.

This research was commissioned by the Crop Protection Association and conducted by Oxford Economics.

Local authorities being petitioned to ban glyphosate weed killers include: London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Brighton and Hove, Frome, Glastonbury, Erewash, Shaftesbury, Bristol, Edinburgh, Salisbury, Aberdeen, London Borough of Hackney, Glasgow, Wadebridge, Havant, Oxford, Darlington, London Borough of Waltham Forest, Somerset, Bournemouth, York, South Hams, London Borough of Brent, Calderdale, London Borough of Croydon, South Gloucestershire, Nottingham, East Grinstead, London Borough of Barnet, Lincoln, and Milton Keynes. 

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