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Our work with Cambridge City Council

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Campaign Timeline

See image below for key points in our work with Cambridge City Council, and how these relate to our wider campaigns. Further details follow below the timeline image. 

January 2021: Our petition launched

We believe that the Covid-19 physical shutdown offered opportunities to enact and expand upon the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, particularly those that focus on chemical use and waste as major contributors to air pollution, loss of biodiversity and poor public health.  In January 2021 we launched a petition asking Cambridge City Council to take action on the following points: 

1. STOP SPRAYING ROADS, VERGES AND PAVEMENTS

Take immediate steps to extend its recent cessation of glyphosate-based herbicide use in parks, open spaces and children’s playgrounds to its roads, verges, and pavements that it manages on behalf of the County Council. They should if necessary amend the terms of that contract so as to allow for the phasing out of the use of herbicides, and work together with PAN-UK's Pesticide-Free Towns and its local representatives here at Pesticide-Free Cambridge, to explore and enact alternatives that may include mechanical or non-synthetic chemical solutions, as well as simply allowing wild grasses and flowers to grow in verges (following the example of cities such as Zurich).  They should also draw as necessary on the strategies applied by other councils across the country (particularly for example the nearby Uttlesford Council) in this regard.

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2.  BAN PRIVATE PESTICIDE-USE ON PUBLIC LAND

Take immediate steps to ban private and business use of synthetic pesticides (including both herbicides and insecticides) directly on public land (e.g., in cases where pesticides are applied around the perimeter of a property that abuts a public pavement or road; or were pesticides are used by members of the public on Council-owned allotments) in ways that impact on public land through the mechanism of ‘drift’ (e.g., where pesticides are used on private land without regard to weather conditions or the possibility of drift of such chemicals into neighbouring properties or onto adjoining roads or pavements and by extension, pedestrians).

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3. MINIMISE PESTICIDE USE IN PUBLIC BUILDINGS

Draw on expertise to encourage healthy indoor built environments across the city’s public buildings, shops and businesses, including minimised use of synthetic insecticides through the adoption of integrated pest control measures.

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4. BAN PESTICIDES IN SCHOOLS

Take immediate steps to work with the County Council and with individual schools across the city to encourage mechanical or non-synthetic chemical forms of weed control within their grounds, and the adoption of integrated or non-synthetic chemical forms of pest control within their buildings.

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5. TACKLE PESTICIDE-USE IN UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE CAMPUSES

Engage with Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University as two of the city’s major stakeholders to minimise their intervention in grounds-keeping, and draw on their considerable expertise to increase biodiversity and healthy outdoor environments on campus, including the elimination of synthetic herbicide and insecticide use.

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6. RUN INFORMATION CAMPAIGNS TO DISCOURAGE PRIVATE-USE OF PESTICIDES IN RESIDENTIAL AND BUSINESS SPACES

Work towards a ban, within the next three years, of the private use of non- agricultural pesticides within the city by householders and business owners, following recent French and Belgian precedents, and to encourage the use of integrated pest control measures and non-synthetic chemical solutions.

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July 2021: Herbicide-Free motion passed
April 2022: Herbicide-Free trials started
Summer 2022: Herbicide-Free working group launched

As a result of our campaigning work with Cambridge City Council, a motion was passed in July 2021 agreeing to a Herbicide-Reduction plan, alongside two-ward herbicide free trial in Newnham and Arbury to begin in April 2022, with the view to rolling this out across the city by the end of 2022. A Herbicide-Free working group was also set up in the summer of 2022 so that the council can discuss ways with partners and stakeholders, including Pesticide-Free Cambridge, of maximising the success of its Herbicide Reduction plan. For details and updates, see some of the media pieces and our meetings records below. 

April 2022: Happy Bee Street adoption scheme launched

A 'Happy Bee Street' community adoption scheme was also introduced as a tie-up between Cambridge City Council and Pesticide-Free Cambridge in Spring 2022. This allows for residents outside the two-ward herbicide-free trial zones to manage their streets without the use of pesticides.

June 2022: Launch of our pesticide-free schools campaign

Although schools and universities have been central to our campaign for several years, in summer 2022 we started working in a more focused way with City and County councils, as well as directly with schools, to encourage policy change regarding the use of herbicides and insecticides in school grounds, both in green spaces, playgrounds and sports grounds, as well as in around buildings.  For news and updates, see our dedicated Pesticide-Free Schools page.  

Meetings, alliances and Public Questions

We are in frequent talks with City and County Councillors and other stakeholders and partner groups to bring about the changes that we want to see.  We also regularly submit Public Questions to council meetings which help to progress our campaign. More details and updates are provided in our blog, see below for a sample.  

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