This paper outlines the current method of non-chemical weed removal and the ongoing work to understand and improve on the current process for the public highway.
Lesley Gates, Waste Contract Manager introduced the report and explained that Hammersmith & Fulham was the first Council in London to halt the use of potentially harmful sprays in parks and open spaces. Spraying of glyphosate stopped in June 2016 and moved to a non-chemical weed removal service. This was introduced to create bio diversity as well as protecting London’s habitat against any long term chemical effect containing glyphosate. She showed slides that outlined the chemical free weed removal strategy and the use of two different methods adopted. One method was to use hot water which would stunt the growth of weeds and was applied three times a year by Serco Group. Learning was taken away from the use of this method and it was felt that more applications of hot water would be of benefit going forward. The other method was the use of foam on open spaces and estates.
Councillor David Morton asked whether the use of industrial vinegar had been considered as a treatment. Lesley Gates explained that the aim of the strategy was to move towards chemical free applications. This method had been trialled but was unsuccessful. Other alternative methods trialled included the use of an electrical lance and mechanical strimmer. The mechanical strimmer used alongside hot water had managed to remove some of the high weeds. Furthermore, Serco Group had created an App which mapped out the location of the quick growth hotspots and the data collected was shared with colleagues to ensure resources were being used effectively.
Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler questioned the effectiveness of the methods employed presently, adding that weeds on pavements and sprouting around trees had increased since the strategy had changed. Further to this, she stated that there were no reports to suggest that Glyphosate was deemed dangerous on pavements and felt that methods were adopted before it was known they would work.
Councillor Wesley Harcourt said that the use of Glyphosate was connected to cases of kidney damage and a direct response to residents’ complaints was to look at alternative options. In addition, he said that it was important that pioneering work such as this took place in the effort of working towards cultivating a cleaner borough in line with the administration’s manifesto. Other boroughs and TfL had shown interest in the methodologies employed by the Council and were keen to explore a similar strategy. Improvements had been made in the reduction of weeds on the pavements and residents were also being encouraged to look after the trees outside of their homes.
A resident asked if a timetable was available around street cleaning times across the borough. Lesley Gates said that Serco Group provided a rota and this would be published on the Council website in future to ensure residents were updated of when their streets were due to be cleaned.
The Chair said that the new methods that had been implemented needed to be given a chance to work and was pleased that this issue was being addressed. She said that it was essential that resident’s feedback was reviewed and asked that response times and complaints be monitored as part of the strategy going forward.
That the Committee reviewed and commented upon the report.