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Exeter Council to cut use of glyphosate as weed killer on roads

Exeter is to cut its use of glyphosate as a weed killer on the city's roads over health and environmental concerns.

Devon County Council currently contracts Exeter City Council to carry out two weed killer sprays a year.

The contract is coming to an end and the council said in future glyphosate would only be used when necessary.

Concerns about the potential effects of glyphosate on health and the environment have previously been raised by the city and county council.

In 2019, a motion calling for a trial of alternative methods of weed suppression and management was unanimously backed by city councillors, as reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The motion said there was "increasing evidence of the dangers to both human health and biodiversity of continuing use of glyphosate weed killer."

It concluded: "This council has a duty of care to its citizens and staff and the use of glyphosate has a detrimental effect on biodiversity and the environment in general."

Exeter Council said glyphosate would now only be used when absolutely necessary, such as when dealing with highly invasive and damaging weeds.

Duncan Wood, lead councillor for climate change, said: "We have been concerned about the use of glyphosate for some time and the city council has previously pledged to reduce usage.

"Protecting biodiversity is extremely important in Exeter."

'Fantastic step forward'

The move was welcomed by Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT).

Emily Spraggon, nature recovery officer at DWT, said the reduction of glyphosate was a "fantastic step forward" for urban wildlife and residents alike.

She said: "41% of insect species face extinction which will have major repercussions for human food production and our wider wildlife.

"Herbicides and pesticides are a big part of this problem as they reduce food supply for insects and have damaging impacts on insect health.

"They also impact our water ways and soils."

Devon County Council said although the routine treatment of weeds twice a year on roads and paths would stop, weeds would continue to be treated as part of highway maintenance work to prevent damage to roads, paths and drainage systems.

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