Serious Concerns about Herbicide Reduction Plan

Councillor Katie Porrer highlights serious concerns about delays and lack of information in the City Council’s Herbicide Reduction Plan.

Cllr Katie Porrer, representing Market Ward on the City Council and the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Open Spaces, has spoken of her “huge disappointment” to find that the actions agreed in her motion proposing a ban on herbicide use across the city (1) in July 2021 are not yet in place.

She commented “I was very pleased that a Herbicide Reduction Plan was put forward to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee in January 2022, with clear targets to start trials in two wards as well as in several streets across the city with a sign off date of 25th February 2022. We were assured at Committee that Pesticide Free Cambridge, who worked closely with me to put together the original motion, would be involved so that we could benefit from their expertise and experience in this field.

“However, we are now in April 2022 and there has been no formal meeting of stakeholders to take this forward, there is no list of dates when spraying is planned in wards which are not part of the trial and there are now reports of die back from herbicides within trial wards. Whilst this use of herbicides in trial wards does not appear to be related to the council, there is no way to report this via the council website, which currently only allows residents to report problematic weeds, and not chemical treatments.

“How have local residents and organisations been made aware of the option of applying to volunteer their street for a trial? Is there time now to implement these street trials before spraying commences shortly? And how are people in wards still using herbicides meant to know when to keep their children and pets away from treated areas if this basic data (treatment date by street) is not available to search for online or in their local area? I spoke at council about my horror at finding out that the milk bottles in my fridge, regularly handled by me and by my child, had been sitting on treated weeds outside my house last Spring, which was only evident days after spraying. This is happening across our city and is a huge concern to many residents.

“We raised concerns in our original motion, when Labour amended it, and when the new Herbicide Reduction Plan was published and Labour refused our amendments, that Labour were not committing fully to clear dates and deadlines but were assured that they were. However, it is extremely disappointing to find that this is not actually the case and things are slipping back again and again. I do not want to end up in a situation where the trials cannot be properly undertaken in 2022 and this leads to a delay in the results and in the proposed city-wide cessation of herbicides in our city and I would therefore urge the ruling Labour group to make this a priority.”

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