Few readers of the Craven Herald would worry about their health if they went to a supermarket and bought a widely available weed killer and then sprayed it on a garden path. Yet this summer a settlement was reached in a US court case that resulted in $10,900,000,000 being paid out in compensation to people who had suffered cancer after being exposed to glyphosate.

That is a great deal of money. A payment of that size isn’t made unless there is serious evidence of significant problems. Glyphosate is the active weed killer in many brands commonly sold in the UK including Roundup.

Scientific studies have provided a significant body of evidence that these weedkillers can also cause harm to wildlife such as bees. Bees frequently visit plants commonly viewed as weeds such as dandelion flowers.

Readers of the Craven Herald will be able to make their own judgements about what levels of risk they wish to accept for those playing in their own gardens.

Staff employed to use the products don’t have the same choice. Nor do insects that consume pollen shortly after plants have been sprayed.

It was, therefore, disappointing to learn at the meeting of Craven District Council on October 13 that local people’s money is being used to pay contractors to spray these products. The risk to wildlife will be of concern to many local people. So will the risk to people employed to work on our behalf. And if the council decides that it isn’t concerned about these issues then the risk of ratepayers having to fund large compensation payments if the Council knowingly continues to contract for the use of these chemicals should be taken very seriously indeed in the view of the scale of the payout in the States.

The time has, therefore, come for Craven District Council to stop paying for the use of these chemicals on local public land. It was encouraging that the Leader of the Council Richard Foster promised to look into their use. It will be much more encouraging when those who are employed by the public purse stop using them.

Councillor Andy Brown

Green Party

Main Street