Posted: 03.08.20 at 17:31 by Mendip District Council
Mendip District Council is to begin trials of non-chemical weed removal to improve community health and the environment.
It follows a decision last autumn by the council to ban the weed killer glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer in humans and is toxic to birds and insects.
Manual weed management trials will take place at two locations - one in a city or town, the other in a rural village.
It will require regular schedules of significant numbers of local volunteers to sign-up to the scheme.
The council has agreed to invest in community kit and vehicles, and employ a co-ordinator to mobilise and manage the initiative.
In light of the current Covid-19 restrictions, social distancing will apply to all volunteers and any shared equipment will be thoroughly cleaned and stored safely, prior to re-use.
Officers will work with members of Mendip's Climate and Ecological Emergency Group, with city, town and parish councils, with established local ecological groups and national organisations, to quickly identify areas best suited to pilot the six-month trial.
The results will provide useful insight to councillors when presented with the feedback in early 2021, as it will impact future decision making on the issue.
Glyphosate has been reduced significantly in Mendip in recent years. Today, just four litres a week is applied across the whole district (285 square miles) and never near watercourses.
Usage is reserved for spot treatments on the toughest weeds. Japanese knotweed is injected with glyphosate.
In September 2019, a decision was made by the council to remove glyphosate in its entirety - a pledge the council says it is determined to uphold.
Cllr Nick Cottle, portfolio holder for neighbourhood services, said: "Mendip are taking a stand by creating insect-friendly spaces.
"But we will need help from the community. Hand-pull weed management is labour intensive and takes regular commitment.
"We will need a shift in attitudes too, so that people no longer view overgrown areas as ugly or untidy, but as insect-rich havens for our wildlife. We promised to get rid of glyphosate, and we intend to keep that promise."