Petition launched calls on Portsmouth City Council to stop use of pesticides in public places

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A PETITION launched calling on the city council to stop using pesticides in public places has been signed by hundreds of residents.

Local environmental groups, activists and labour councillors launched a petition calling on Portsmouth City Council to stop using herbicides and pesticides in public spaces and to consider alternative ways of managing wild plants.

It has so far received more than 500 signatures from city residents.

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A variety of pesticides are reportedly used by the council including in parks, open spaces, communal areas and schools.

Portsmouth Civic Offices.

Picture: César Moreno HuertaPortsmouth Civic Offices.

Picture: César Moreno Huerta
Portsmouth Civic Offices. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

On July 19 a motion was submitted by Labour councillors Charlotte Gerada and Judith Smyth to a city council meeting.

The motion challenges the Liberal Democrat administration to commit to the phasing out of all pesticide use in public spaces.

It calls for cabinet to commission trials of a wide range of non-chemical and mechanical alternatives for weed treatment and management and to request council officers report back the findings within six months.

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It also asks the cabinet to involve local communities in becoming a pesticide-free city.

This will include ensuring the council communicates the benefits of stopping pesticide use and invites residents to take part in trialling other methods of weed management.

Cllr Gerada, deputy leader of the Labour Group and proposer of the motion, said: ‘A motion on banning pesticides was debated at full council last year, but unfortunately it didn’t lead to any further action by the council. It was reported that the council is already doing enough and the use of pesticides and herbicides can’t be withdrawn any further.

‘This is wholly unacceptable, given the growing body of evidence about the detrimental impact pesticides have on pollinators, like bees, our environment and biodiversity.’

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Portsmouth Friends of the Earth added: ‘Friends of the Earth are encouraged by the steps already taken to increase biodiversity in Portsmouth. However, the argument that alternatives to pesticide for weed control is too expensive falls away if their principle of minimising street plant extermination is followed more robustly.’

The motion also requests the council delivers a phased withdrawal from the use of all pesticides, including glyphosate, over a period of three years, using methods tested in the aforementioned trials. This includes all of the council’s subcontractors, such as Colas.