Glyphosate use (FOI-5602)
Dear ***** *****
Re: Freedom of Information Request.
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, received 2 March 2020. Your request has been considered and our response is in bold below.
The Council’s Response
1. Does the council or its contractors currently use glyphosate-based weed killers?
We can confirm that our Environmental Operations use a Contractor for purposes of weed spraying, which is glyphosate-based.
2. Can you give me all addresses or types of location (eg park, school playing field etc) where glyphosate-based weed killers are currently used by the council?
The Council uses glyphosate-based weed killers in its parks and green spaces - mainly on hard surfaces and for the treatment of invasive weeds. In the past it has used it for the preparation of wildflower meadows and on shrub bed areas, but this has now stopped.
On housing green spaces Glyphosate is used on grassed areas to prevent the use of mechanical means of cutting within close proximity to residents’ window in order to prevent repeat cases of breaking windows it is also used in shrub bed maintenance.
Environmental Operations use weed spraying for weed control on hard standings on the public Highway and Hackney maintained housing Estates. We do not maintain any Parks, Open spaces or School playing fields.
3. How much has the council spent on glyphosate-based weed killers for the financial years:
Building Maintenance & Estates Environment
Parks & Green Spaces
Using the excess from previous years purchases so haven"t purchased any this year.
4. How many complaints that include the word glyphosate has the council received for its use (or its contractors’ use) in the financial years:
The Council has searched its complaints system using the word ‘glyphosate’ and it has not identified any formal complaints being recorded for the financial years requested - however it should be noted that the search will only pick up complaints where the word ‘glyphosate’ has been added to the title or description fields in the system.
However, for the financial years requested the Council’s system indicated that it received the following in relation to glyphosate:
- 3 FOI requests
- 5 Members Enquiries
- 4 Mayor’s Enquiries
Environmental Services has received a total of 3 official members enquiries not necessarily complaint containing the word glyphosate.
5. Does the council have any internal plans to phase out glyphosate-based weed killers use? If yes please attach details of said plan.
Hackney Council is currently trialling a glyphosate-free area in Homerton to promote biodiversity, increase green infrastructure, and see if abandoning the use of the herbicide means it can continue to deliver high standards of street and grounds maintenance.
The trial, which encompasses streets, estates and green spaces in the Daubeney area of Homerton, began in early summer 2019. It is hoped it will demonstrate the effect of allowing for a more naturalistic streetscape, so that decisions can be made about the future use of herbicides and other methods of removing weeds in maintaining the public realm.
While other local authorities have replaced glyphosate with biodegradable alternatives, Hackney Council’s trial to eliminate spraying completely is a different approach to finding alternative solutions.
The trial comes in addition to a number of measures the Council is carrying out across the borough to minimise glyphosate use, which have so far seen the amount used on its streets reduced by 50% since May 2018.
These measures include: removing weeds in town centres by hand instead of chemically; removing glyphosate spraying along more than 100km of streets; reducing the number of sprays per season from four to three; and changing the way it’s applied - it’s now sprayed by operatives with knapsacks, rather than from vehicles, which reduces the amount of material used and minimises dispersal.
Next steps in our managed glyphosate reduction programme will be to significantly increase the size of the zero-spray trial area and, elsewhere in the borough, trial a new glyphosate-based weed management solution with a significantly smaller proportion of glyphosate.
Currently,we are not aware of any internal plans to phase out the use of glyphosate, but can confirm a reduction of Litres of glyphosate for the past five years, with controls in place to eliminate indiscriminate weed spraying, having moved away from the mechanical vehicle spraying to hand spraying by use of knapsack to ensure that only actively growing weeds are sprayed. No main Roads in hackney receive weed spraying, a reduction in the overall number of seasonal applications, and the introduction of a weed spraying exclusion zone.
6. Has the council been contacted by Bayer-Monsanto between 12th February 2015 and 12th February 2020? please provide a copy of all correspondence.
The Council’s Parks and Green Spaces Service nor Estates Environment Grounds Maintenance departments have not had any direct contact with Bayer-Monsanto during this period.
There has been no direct contact from Bayer-Monsanto with Environmental Operations, Hackney Council.
Appeals & Complaints Procedure
If you are dissatisfied with this response and wish to appeal, please reply to this email or write to the Information Management Team and this will be dealt with through our Internal Review procedure.
Information Management Team
London Borough of Hackney
Hackney Service Centre
1 Hillman Street
London E8 1DY
Your request should be submitted to us within 40 working days of receipt by you of this response. Any request received after this time will only be considered at the discretion of the Council.
If you are still not satisfied following the Internal Review, you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner"s:
Information Commissioner"s Office
0303 123 1113
Information Management Team
London Borough of Hackney