By Nick Mole, Policy Officer, PAN UK
2019 is proving to be an amazing year for our Pesticide-Free Towns campaign, as an ever growing number of councils adopt policies that will bring an end to the use of potentially harmful pesticides in the parks and playgrounds, streets and schools where we all live, work and play.
Herbicides account for 98% of the total pesticides used in towns and cities in the UK, and the majority of these are glyphosate-based. This is not just about replacing one herbicide with another, this is about taking a systemic approach to end our dependency on toxic chemicals and finding safe and sustainable alternatives to protect human health and biodiversity.
So far, this year has seen Brighton, Bristol, Derry and Trafford adopt policies that will significantly reduce and ultimately eliminate their use of pesticides. Other councils such as London’s Hackney and Croydon are making great progress and already have strategies in place.
And the positive results keep on rolling in. On 4th July at a plenary session the London Assembly adopted a Motion calling on Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to initiate a plan to end the use of glyphosate on the Greater London Authority (GLA) Estate and calling on all London boroughs to cease the use of glyphosate on council property as soon as possible.
The Motion also calls on the Mayor to establish a “…working group for London borough representatives, specialists and other key land managers in London to work towards the removal of [glyphosate] and any other harmful herbicide”. This is a vital part of the plan and is a strategy already adopted in Bristol. By drawing in other land managers to work together, a truly pesticide-free city can be achieved. The working group will aim to develop a set of joined up strategies so that the GLA and other London boroughs are not working in isolation.
The London Assembly Motion was submitted and seconded by Green Party London Assembly Members Caroline Russel and Sian Berry. It was supported and amended by Leonie Cooper, a Labour Party Assembly Member and long-time friend of PAN UK, and ultimately backed by every single Assembly Member, regardless of party. This once again shows that the issue of making our cities safer and greener crosses political boundaries and receives support from right across the political spectrum.
Whilst the GLA can’t dictate what policies individual London boroughs adopt, this Motion shows clear leadership and will act as a spur for boroughs to act.
The full text of the Motion and a press release from the London Assembly can be read here.
If you are a Londoner, why not drop your Assembly Member a message to congratulate them on this initiative. It would also be a good idea to let your local council know that this has been adopted.
We are the only organisation working to end urban pesticide use in the UK. Visit our Pesticide-Free Towns page to find out how to campaign to make your town or city pesticide-free.