Poison on our Pavements – Pesticide Free Balerno


Posted 2 months ago

Spring has sprung and for most of us, this signals positivity,  with lighter, longer days and flourishing nature, but Councils it is time to start applying Poison to our Pavements

Glyphosate is still the main chemical chosen for weed control in and around the  capital cities pavement’s, streets, around trees , publicly used buildings and spaces, outside houses , flats, schools, parks and medical establishments  and much much more , this continues , despite it being well known that this chemical, kills more than just the weeds!

It was way back in 2016, when The International Agency for Research Cancer (IARC) announced that Glyphosate was a probable carcinogen to both humans and animals.

Companies and manufacturers immediately raced to use well funded research and selective results defending the chemicals safety and protecting continued use and profits.

Several high profile successful lawsuits later, the very real harm caused by Glyphosate has been brought to light. Supreme Court judges recognise and acknowledge research, which is free from vested interests  and available for public scrutiny and millions have now been paid out to those affected , thousands of cases are now awaiting trial and billions have been set aside to meet  future claims. 

Common sense, would dictate that any continued use of Glyphosate by councils, would immediately halt , but no, unfortunately common sense is not that common these days  and years later councils are still using!!

In Edinburgh, Poison is still being applied to our pavements in communities despite mounting local stories of everyday human and animal sickness and harm linked to nearby applications . Claims from council of apparent reductions and safety are amongst the usual responses , but the fact still remains – Glyphosate continues to be used, where we walk our dogs and our kids play.

Glyphosate is now not only linked to Cancer but to a host of today’s common ailments like Asthma, allergies, sore throats, stomach issues and epilepsy, Autoimmune dysfunction, respiratory distress and gastrointestinal issues have all been linked to Glyphosate.

Despite full knowledge of this, each year our elected officials vote and then go on to decide to allow applications to continue , aware that Glyphosate was only ever narrowly relicensed for minimal and restricted use only.

Glyphosate goes on to be applied by   councils usually 2/3 times per year between March and October , onto our pavements, streets, around trees, bus stops, lampposts, around signs, preparing flowerbeds, in cemeteries and in and around many other public buildings and shared spaces.

Glyphosate is applied right under our noses using quad bikes or by individuals wearing backpack applicators, without our knowledge or consent. Unless you are at your window 24/7 you are unlikely to ever see or know this has happened, making it near impossible to avoid.

Council are quick to reassure us of the chemicals safety, citing their other‘ environmental’ credentials and their many other admirable activities, hoping to justify continued use. Thankfully some prefer to take a precautionary approach.

Councils like Glastonbury, decided in 2016 if there was any doubt to the chemicals safety, to apply the precautionary principle and to immediately stop use . Glastonbury have been successfully removing weeds by using safe alternatives, prioritising the health of their community. Hammersmith and Fulham also switched to using safe alternatives without hesitation, removing  the weeds using safe environmentally friendly methods. Protecting pets, people and planet above profit.

Unfortunately , Scotlands Capital city seems to have been somewhat side tracked and although they were amongst the first to acknowledge the urgent need to stop using this chemical and remove the weeds safely way back in 2017, they still in 2024 actively choose to apply Poison to our Pavements and local areas, even outside our  homes!!- even when they are well aware of suspected connections to ill health and in the full knowledge that there are cost effective , safe alternative solutions available.

The village of Balerno, on the outskirts of Edinburgh, felt forced to take matters into their own hands in 2019, after they linked local applications to incidents of human and pet illness and bee death, dog sickness.

Reports  of sore throats, chronic coughs, allergies, asthma, arthritis, hay fever, gut issues, neurological issues , respiratory issues and autoimmune disfunction persuaded the council that no more Glyphosate was to be applied in Balerno and the council agreed to look into safe alternatives. Balerno residents now choose to safely remove the small strip of weeds outside their own home, while waiting as the Council investigate alternatives. 

Since ending the use of Glyphosate in Balerno , local residents have noted previously reported ailments have improved and in some cases their chronic health conditions have been completely resolved!

Public demand on this matter has never been higher now , as most people do not want  unnecessary toxic chemicals forced upon them! Edinburgh has a petition touching 5,000 , asking for no more Glyphosate to be applied to remove weeds and for safe alternatives to be used instead.

It will be very interesting to see this year how our democratically elected officials choose to allocate our £2.4 million budget which has been announced for Edinburgh Parks, Environmental protection and Biodiversity.

Isn’t it a very unusual democratic council that ignores the democratic wishes of the public it claims to represent and who are asking for safe alternatives to protect health and the environment!

Safe alternatives like Hot water or Foamstream machines are not only affordable at around £20,000, they are already used successfully worldwide to protect the environment and biodiversity. When used correctly, they are not only safer for health and the environment but they actually save councils money and are more effective . Multi function capabilities also mean they  are able to remove chewing gum and graffiti, clean bus shelters and can be used all year round and in all weathers!

With so much emphasis on health and the environment today it seems almost ludicrous and extremely odd and concerning to continue to use and force a known harmful to health and environmental chemical upon communities we claim to represent and protect.

Councils and communities have the responsibility to make this work. Surely our role and duty as responsible adults is to protect our most vulnerable and our next generation?

It may be doubtful that any future generations will ever wonder why companies protected their profits or why councils protected their reputations but they may indeed wonder and be shocked at why we so easily let it happen 

Contributed by Pesticide Free Balerno

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