Cambridge: city of (sprayed) hedges
Updated: Nov 4, 2022
Perhaps you don't pay them much notice, but Cambridge is full of spectacular hedges that not only look great but are host to an array of mammals, nesting birds and insects that are crucial as both pollinators and bird food (https://hedgelink.org.uk/hedgerows/hedgerow-biodiversity/). We were therefore shocked to receive two separate reports recently of insecticide spraying of hedges on Cambridge's streets, presumably to treat aphids or moths. Such action presents an enormous threat to non-target wildlife species especially in the middle of the nesting season (https://policy.friendsoftheearth.uk/.../effects...)
Best way of dealing with aphids is to avoid them in the first place through encouraging beneficial insects such as ladybirds and wasps, and easiest way of doing that is to AVOID PESTICIDES altogether. If you do have aphids, solutions can be as simple as plain water: https://www.almanac.com/pest/aphids
Human pedestrians and pets also come into close contact with hedges everyday on city pavements, and the last thing most people expect is that they might be covered in toxic pesticides.
Both of the above-mentioned spraying events involved members of the public applying commercial 'bug spray' on the pavement-facing side of their hedges without taking any precautions to prevent direct or indirect exposure to fellow pedestrians, and without regard to weather conditions (in one instance it was windy and raining which is a total no-no!). Members of the public surely have a right to walk around their town, city, village, without the risk of being doused with insecticides, especially relevant given today's report that 1 in 6 deaths worldwide are due to chemical air pollution https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/may/17/pollution-responsible-one-in-six-deaths-across-planet
The following standard response was received from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) in reply to reports submitted on the above incidents:
"When authorised, pesticides are considered to have met a certain standard of safety, and as long as the conditions of use are met, the risk to human health (from any exposure that does occur) is considered to be low. When used according to the label directions and the Code of Practice for Safe Use of Plant Protection Products (which provides advice and guidance on best practice in using pesticides), a pesticide should be safe and effective."
When even an outfit supposedly dedicated to HEALTH and SAFETY continues to spout myths about the assumed safety of synthetic pesticides against the plethora of scientific evidence to the contrary, we know we're facing an upward struggle!
Please do continue to report such instances to your local council and the HSE. It's important they realise that many people are appalled by such behaviour in the middle of a biodiversity, climate and ecological public health emergency.
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