Cambridgeshire’s no-spray weed policy will be reviewed
Concerns about the council’s no-spray weeds policy came under the spotlight at a full meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council this week – with a commitment to review the current policy as part of a wider engagement exercise.
The meeting on Tuesday heard there were concerns about the how the policy appropriately balances safety, access, and environmental concerns.
In a change made as part of the council’s current budget and business plan, approved in February 2023, the council ceased the cycle of chemical removal of weeds, concentrating on the removal of harmful or poisonous weeds, those causing a safety hazard or as part of preparation before other works were carried out.
Following concerns raised by residents about this approach, which many members told the meeting had flooded their inboxes this year, these have been fed into a broader engagement exercise with town and parish councils including a survey to gather feedback, due to be reported back to the council's highways and transport committee in January.
As well as listening carefully to concerns raised in a public petition, the council agreed an amended motion, which confirmed that it would review the council’s current approach at its meeting in the new year.
In moving his amendment, Councillor Neil Shailer highlighted how a wetter-than-average summer had led to increased weed growth, which helped the review. He said: “The data and feedback will be used to support biodiversity where we can support communities where volunteers remove weeds without herbicide, while proactively controlling weeds and protecting the highways asset where that is needed.”
However, Councillor Alex Beckett acknowledged: “But we didn’t get this right. Some of the issues raised by members shouldn’t have happened even under this trial – the policy still allowed for the removal of poisonous weeds such as ragwort, or those which posed a hazard. Going forward this shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all policy, we should be tailoring the offering to each area.”
Alongside agreeing to review the policy in light of the engagement exercise, the council agreed it should allocate sufficient resources to deliver an appropriate spraying regime to manage weeds effectively and to publish information on the products used and their effects on pollinating insects to provide evidence for debate.