Call for Northampton Borough Council to stop using weedkiller with cancer links

Opposition councillors are calling on Northampton Borough Council to stop using a popular weedkiller as it has been linked to causing cancer.

The Labour group wants the council's contractors to not use glyphosate-based herbicides as there are worldwide concerns to both the safety and the ethical use of the chemical.

Roundup weedkillers are one of the most popular brands known to use glyphosate. Photo: Getty Images

Roundup weedkillers are one of the most popular brands known to use glyphosate. Photo: Getty Images

The council said it is 'happy' to work with contractors to look at alternatives but glyphosate is currently 'the best solution available'.

Councillor Paul Joyce (Lab, Eastfield) said: “Recently Austria become the first EU country to ban the weed killer for its links to potentially causing cancer.

"Currently in the USA over 13,000 people are in the process of claiming damages from the company that produces it.

"After recently declaring a climate emergency in Northampton, alternatives should be sought to reduce the impact on our local environment and any harmful effects on our environmental contractors.

"An urgent review is now needed to ensure that this poison is banned from our local environment.”

In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer labelled glyphosate as 'probably carcinogenic' while the ingredients added to products may be toxic, according to the Northampton Labour group.

However, numerous other international agencies, including the European Chemical Agency and European Food Safety Authority, and weedkiller manufacturers say glyphosate is safe.

Councillor Gareth Eales (Lab, Spencer) said: “I am concerned over the long-term impact on the use of these dangerous chemicals, both on the individuals that have to use them and on the environment. It is time that alternative methods need to be looked at.

"I am sure there are more effective environmental solutions that can be used and perhaps we should seek to involve the community for their ideas and views about how we change the environment instead of spraying and leaving dead patches everywhere."

Glyphosate is used on all Northampton highway street kerbs four times a year, as well as aound obstacles like street lamps, trees and bins when grassed areas are mown, in shrub beds and to control noxious weeds such as Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed.

A council spokesman said: “These products are used strictly in line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive and remain the most efficient means of dealing with weeds.

“We are we of course happy to work with our contractors to look at possible alternatives, but use of glyphosate was the best solution available when we tendered for our current contract.”