Ban on common weedkiller could create £228 million council tax bombshell

Kate Hopkinsin Local Authority

New economic figures unveiled today reveal the cost to the local taxpayer of banning common weedkillers to keep pavements, parks and public places weed free.

Research made available to the Amenity Forum has concluded that:

• A local authority ban on common weedkillers used in the professional amenity and garden sectors which contain glyphosate would add £228 million to council tax bills each year

• This has been calculated as a cost equivalent to current funding for 11,438 adult social care workers

• The ban could force some UK councils to spend considerable sums in capital outlays to replace conventional spraying systems with alternative approaches

New economic figures unveiled today reveal the cost to the local taxpayer of banning common weedkillers to keep pavements, parks and public places weed free.

The figures come at a time when no less than 30 local authorities are being lobbied by some in their communities to ban the same weedkillers that are used in amenity areas and gardens throughout the UK.

The research shows that a ban on weedkillers containing glyphosate would add £228 million to the Ucouncil tax bill each year. The additional tax requirements for funding the alternatives would require an increase in the averagehousehold council tax bill of £7.80 - half the band D rate increase in 2015/16.

Weedkillers are used by local authorities for management of public spaces, including pavements, schools and local authority play areas. The non-chemical alternatives to treating roads and pavements for weeds have a place in an integrated approach to weed management but, as extensive research has shown, cannot currently compete with weedkillers in normal day to day operations on economic or effectiveness grounds.

Amenity Forum Chairman, Professor John Moverley OBE, commented:

"At a time when Local Authorities are faced with acute budget pressures, it is important that decision are based upon science and evidence. Nobody working in the professional amenity sector would wish to do anything to endanger public health and safety and always makes use of all options available. Any weedkiller coming to market undertakes rigorous testing before it is released and during its use.

Weedkillers used in the amenity sector have been proven time and time again to be safe - no less the 28 independent global regulators and thousands of scientific studies over 40 years back this up. They are used across the diverse and important amenity sector as part of an integrated approach, keeping railways running, maintaining our world class sports surfaces, for woodlands and much more. This research has just highlighted the costs of keeping pavements weed free. The total amenity cost would be substantially more.

As the voluntary initiative for the sector, we seek to provide an independent voice promoting best practice in all aspects of weed and pest management. We recognise concerns can arise but, in dealing with them, we need a rational debate based upon science and facts. The management of weeds and pests in amenity impacts upon every UK citizen''

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