How did the council move forward?
Councilllor Anne Pissariou, Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee made the pesticide-free pledge during the election and took on the task of exploring alternatives, along with council officers Susan Connelly (Project Officer, City Environment), Rachel Chasseaud (Head of Tenancy Services) and Robert Walker (Head of City Parks).
They first had a meeting with PAN UK to discuss viable alternatives and a way forward. It was decided at the meeting that a three-year phase-out plan would be the best approach, giving the council time to plan, experiment and implement effectively instead of rushing into anything.
In order to get costings, experience and advice the council started to reach out to other councils across the UK who had already stopped using pesticides. In particular, the council worked with Lewes District Council who had been pesticide-free since 2018.
The council built on efforts to reduce pesticide use such as using woodchip to keep weed growth down in selected areas of parks and housing estates. They started mapping areas where they could reduce spraying or stop it altogether while they searched for alternatives.
Next, they trialled the Foamstream machine, carefully recording areas where they had used it. After the initial trial, they concluded that they wouldn’t invest in a Foamstream machine just yet, but instead invested an initial £33,000 per year to pay council operators to do hand-weeding with hoes, steel brushes and other tools.
Once they had decided on their plan for the year 2019/2020, Cllr Pissaridou took a motion to the council, calling for a three-year phase-out, after presenting the findings of their trialling and research. This passed unanimously.
Brighton and Hove are still in the first year of their phase-out plan, and still use herbicide in some areas. However, they will continue costing and trials until they can find a viable alternative. They have set up a task-force to come together and regularly discuss progress made and to decide next steps toward a pesticide-free Brighton and Hove,