Suffolk County Council to review weed control for roads and pavements

Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet will reconsider how Suffolk Highways uses chemicals to control weed growth.

In February 2022, the council agreed to stop using glyphosate in its routine weed treatment programmes, to find more natural alternatives to help protect the local environment.

However, the alternative products proved unable to meet requirements, which was further exacerbated by exceptional growing conditions. Multiple applications were sometimes needed which could introduce other negative environmental impacts.

It has proved a challenge to reduce high performing treatments, whilst significantly mitigating the environmental impact. Other local authorities locally have experienced a similar situation.

Councillor Paul West, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for Ipswich, operational highways and flooding, said: “It is important that we trial different methods to maintain weeds on our highway network, and strike a balance between spending taxpayers’ money carefully, protecting the environment and considering public safety on our roads and pavements.

“Part of that balance is making sure that whatever treatment we apply, it is effective – and that includes looking to reintroduce glyphosate to some of our operations for the best possible performance.

“We’ve monitored the work that we’ve done since moving away from glyphosate on our roads and pavements and listened to feedback from residents. Some were pleased that we were using less chemicals, but others thought that weeds had thrived too much. We agree that the different treatments haven’t worked as well as we’d hoped.”

Regular weed treatment on our highway network will continue using a variety of methods, with plans for glyphosate being considered only when appropriate – the ambition still remains to reduce the use of glyphosate as far as possible.

Teams will continue to monitor and research the different approaches being used to remove weeds on our roads and pavements. Where needed, glyphosate would be used responsibly as it is one of the most cost-effective and long-lasting solutions.


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