Surrey commits to improve road verges for wildlife, thanks to Green motion

Surrey County Council has committed to reviewing its use of glyphosate, a controversial weedkiller that has been blamed for causing cancer, following a motion tabled by Green councillor Jonathan Essex. The motion also introduces moves towards a wildlife-friendly verge cutting regime, to protect wildflowers and invertebrates. The motion was passed with 63 votes in favour and 3 abstentions.

“I’m delighted that Surrey County Council has pledged to protect our wildlife and the health of its residents by taking a positive approach to verge and public space maintenance,” said Cllr Essex. “It’s very welcome that Surrey is seriously considering stopping use of this toxic weedkiller.”

Glyphosate (marketed widely under the name Roundup) has been the subject of scrutiny across the EU because of health fears. In the USA billions of dollars have been paid in damages to workers who used the chemical herbicide, who went on to get cancer. There are 13,000 lawsuits citing glyphosate in the USA but local authorities in the UK have been slow to control its use. Yet some councils – including Croydon and Lewes – are already using alternative methods of pest control.

Surrey has agreed to trial alternatives and review its future practice.

Councillor Essex also called on Surrey County Council – and the 11 borough and district councils it has contracts with – to reduce cutting of verges to save wildflowers.

“We need a pollinator action plan for our verges,” said Councillor Essex. “Bees and other insects need wild flowers – and plants need to be left long enough to set seed before they are cut. Mowing regimes should be timed to allow wildflower verges to flourish. Many councils who have reduced cutting regimes have also found it saved money.

“Many residents have noticed that where public spaces have been left uncut into July we are enjoying a beautiful array of wildflowers this year – it really makes a positive difference to our environment”.


See the full text of the Motion here:



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