Case Study: Pesticide-Free Lewes

In 2016, local residents banded together to start a campaign to end the use of pesticides in the town of Lewes and extending out to the district of East Sussex.

What campaigners did  

The group began by organising regular meetings for the core campaigners in a local café.

The original group consisted of a handful of concerned local residents, sympathetic town and district councillors and a representative of PAN UK. They decided that gathering local support from other residents was key to achieving success and so a petition was drawn up calling on the council to ban the use of pesticides across Lewes.

Whilst in this day and age it is more common to use online petition tools, in this case it was thought more powerful to have an old-fashioned paper petition. This would allow the team to go out and actually meet other residents to discuss the matter and garner support. In the end the petition attracted over 2,000 signatures, easily meeting the 1500 required to trigger a formal response from the council.

The core campaign group then arranged for the council’s contractor to give a demonstration of a new non-chemical alternative it had been trialling – a system based on hot foam. Lewes District Council was incredibly impressed with its capabilities but recognised that they may have to use it for longer, or more frequently, than chemical herbicide.

Pesticide-Free Lewes in East Sussex - a success story

How did the council move forward?  

In response to their petition, the Lewes District Council officer responsible for weed control in parks and cemeteries, conducted a detailed study of weed control solutions, their effectiveness, and the implications in terms of pesticide reduction and cost. His report drew attention to the probable withdrawal of the license for glyphosate. Councils must plan ahead for other solutions. His recommendation was that the Foamstream machine offered the best technical solution.

Based on this report, Lewes District Council approved the petition unanimously and this enabled council staff to begin implementing Andy Frost’s recommendations. The purchase of a Foamstream machine was done in partnership with the council’s contractor, Burleys, at no additional cost to local tax payers.

Conclusions

  • Working collaboratively with the council produces results.
  • Council officers are key allies and their involvement is essential.
  • Foamstream and other technologies can be invested in without extra cost to the taxpayer.
  • Campaigns can deliver results in a short period of time!

Read Lewes District Council’s 2019 Pesticide Policy here.

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