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Agenda item

Weed Treatment – Options

This report examines options for weed treatment to inform how the Council’s in house service and external contractors manage weeds for the next two years.

 

Decision:

Resolved:

     i.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to approve the continued use of glyphosate based treatments as the principle method of weed control.

 

    Reason: To ensure the most effective weed control

 

    ii.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to approve a two year contract, with an option to extend for two years, with that decision being brought back to a future decision session.

 

Reason: To enable the future treatment option to be reviewed having considered changes in product availability and any trials, whilst allowing the council to obtain value for money

 

  iii.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to request a report for a future decision session, detailing discussions with a range of external organisations to obtain extra information on the feasibility of additional weed control trials.

 

Reason: To gather information on a new method which will inform future decision making.

Minutes:

This report examined options for weed treatment to inform how the Council’s in house service and external contractors would manage weeds for the next two years. The Head of Parks and Open Spaces and the Head of Environmental Services were in attendance to present the report and respond to questions.

 

Key points raised during the presentation of the report included:

·        Officers confirmed that the contract was to be tendered and taken to the market to ensure that the best possible value for money was achieved.

·        Reductions in treatments and areas treated were discussed in the report, as well as trials of methods other than glyphosates.

·        The contractor engaged by the Council in 2019 did not meet expected standards, and they ultimately withdrew from that contract, resulting in a new contractor for 2020/21.

·        Officers emphasised that they understood environmental concerns and that they had been considering other methods including a number of trails in 2021. They recommended the use of glyphosate for the next two years, but that those years be utilised to explore further options and alternatives.

·        Any alternative weed management system would likely require extra funding bids. Strimming, hot lances and pedestrian rather than quad-bike based spraying were all deemed to be more costly and time consuming than the presently used method.

·        2021 trails had found that no other chemicals gave better results in weed control than glyphosates.

 

The Executive Member commented that:

·        She thanked officers for their work on this issue.

·        Residents’ unhappiness during the period of the unsatisfactory contractor in 2019 and the increased spend on pavements and roads that resulted from that period due to the damage uncontrolled weeds did showed that new methods of weed control needed to be proven successful before they replace glyphosates.

 

In response to questions from the Executive Member, officers stated that:

·        The services of an external expert consultant had been engaged to assist in determining which method was best, which had resulted in the recommendation to continue the use of glyphosates.

·        The external advisor had stated that alternative treatments were less successful and these methods had resulted in complaints from residents during trials. These results were visually represented at Annex A to the report.

·        Manual weeding of the 450 miles of highways and pavements etc. in York could cost upwards of £100,000 and would take a team of 6 over a month to achieve each time.

·        Diamond glyphosate was not permitted for highway use as a weed killer.

·        A hot foam method would include boiling around 1,000 litres of water each day and the purchase of equipment for it would cost around £30,000.

·        Other organisations, including neighbouring local authorities, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and others could be involved in future trials to pool expertise.

 

Resolved:

     i.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to approve the continued use of glyphosate based treatments as the principle method of weed control.

 

    Reason: To ensure the most effective weed control

 

    ii.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to approve a two year contract, with an option to extend for two years, with that decision being brought back to a future decision session.

 

Reason: To enable the future treatment option to be reviewed having considered changes in product availability and any trials, whilst allowing the council to obtain value for money

 

  iii.        That the Chief Operating Officer be recommended to request a report for a future decision session, detailing discussions with a range of external organisations to obtain extra information on the feasibility of additional weed control trials.

 

Reason: To gather information on a new method which will inform future decision making.

Supporting documents:

 

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