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2021: PFC campaign meetings and updates

Updated: Jan 26



On this page you'll find a rolling record of meetings and other updates about our campaign in 2021. Our records for 2022 (current year) 2020 and previous years are available in separate blog entries. See links above.


20 Dec 2021

PFC meeting with PAN-UK Pesticide-Free Towns campaign to discuss our recent FB post (2 Dec 2021) on PAN-UK's pesticide-free supermarkets campaign. We have now updated our post (see here) to clarify what we learnt from this very helpful meeting in terms of why only gardening chemicals were included in the supermarkets surveys. This is related to different labelling laws in the UK for 'plant protection chemicals' (ie those pesticides applied directly to plants, and generally sold in the gardening section of supermarkets), and all other household pesticides including insecticides such as ant powder and fly/wasp sprays which are listed under separate Biocides labelling legislation, and thus need to be tackled through a separate PAN-UK campaign/survey.


10 Dec 2021

Email to Cllr Collis et al further to our unanswered questions at the 7 Oct 2021 Environment & Community Scrutiny meeting. As of Jan 2022 this email also remains unanswered.

Dear Cllr Collis

Copying in Streets and Open Spaces team as we met with them with Katie Thornburrow, then Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces, on 19th November 2020 to discuss these issues. Also copying in Cllrs Porrer, Payne and Copley due to their support for the July motion and Haf Davies as Executive Councillor for Biodiversity.

Below (in bold) you will see the questions submitted to the Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee meeting on 7th October 2021 and to which we note we have not yet received a response.

With reference to these questions, happy though we are about the passing of Cllrs Porrer and Payne’s motion at the Full Council on 22 July, we are increasingly frustrated by the slow pace of change and the lack of direct communication since then. We have had some informal discussions with members of the Biodiversity team at Cambridge City Council about the best herbicide-free alternatives for the mini trial that they have been running this autumn. We would be grateful, however, if the council could tell us please which methods were trialled, what the results were, and which methods have been selected to put in place for the subsequent two-ward trials? Further, given that herbicide use in parks and open spaces, including children's playgrounds, was supposedly halted in 2019, can the council tell us which herbicide-free trials have been used in these areas since then? Regarding the two-ward trial, we had initially suggested Arbury, Abbey and Newnham as suitable wards for trialling herbicide-free methods, and we have had support from Councillors in these wards. However, we have not yet received any formal notification about council decision making in this regard. Can the Council let us know whether a decision has been made over choice of trial wards, and when Pesticide-Free Cambridge will be formally included in these discussions? We are extremely concerned that the date for the two-ward trial has already slipped from autumn 2021 to spring next year. Could the Council also confirm when the signage and information warning residents about planned spraying programmes will be actioned, given that the motion passed in July promised to 'to explore the most effective methods of communicating with residents (and any additional resource implications) about any necessary herbicide applications, which may include the following commitments: publishing the planned dates of herbicide treatments by road/ward for the remainder of 2021 and thereafter on the council’s website'. We consider this to be a minimum step towards reducing residents’ direct exposure to toxic glyphosate residues during the 5-10 days that it takes for plant die-off to occur. Our position is that the City Council should also acknowledge explicitly the health risks that ongoing glyphosate applications present to its own operatives. Recognising the links made between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, both the GMB and TUC Unions recommend it be phased out completely or that where it is still used, operatives be given protective clothing. Given that millions of dollars have already been paid out in lawsuits to operatives who have contracted cancer in the US, Cambridge City Council would be well advised to take appropriate precautions in this regard. We reiterate our firm commitment to working with the City Council to make Cambridge pesticide-free, starting with a complete end to herbicide use on land owned or managed by the City Council. In addition, we are also committed to working with communities, groups and residents to make this happen as quickly and as effectively as possible. Cambridge should be a leading light as a green, sustainable, healthy city. Instead, over two years on from its 2019 Climate and Biodiversity Emergency declarations, we have not moved forward from the initial step of ending herbicide use in parks and open spaces.


2 Dec 2021

PFC meeting with Cambridge Council Biodiversity team to discuss progress on two-ward herbicide-free trials (more details to follow).


26 Nov 2021

PFC member & local resident has been involved with the community-adoption of this Cambridge alleyway to save it from council-herbicide spraying. Affectionately known as 'The Snicket', this cut-through from Harvey Goodwin Avenue to French's Road has quite a colourful history. It has periodically attracted anti-social behaviour to the extent that at one point it was suggested it be locked at night. In the 60's it was an unofficial path but more recently, having become a much-used route to St. Lukes Primary School, it was paved and being 'looked after' by the City Council which unfortunately meant spraying it twice-yearly with toxic, glyphosate-based herbicide. This, despite the alley being used daily by young children and adults going to and from school, and all the well-demonstrated risks posed by direct and indirect glyphosate exposure.


Two years ago local residents decided enough was enough. They asked the Council to stop spraying and offered to keep the vegetation in check themselves. Since then, there has been no herbicide spraying along the Snicket. The local residents not only keep the ivy and nettles under control and trim the overhanging holly branches, they also plant a few flowers here and there, put in spring bulbs and sweep up the autumn leaves. Wrens and blackbirds nest here in the spring and ladybirds cluster together in the ivy in winter. Meeting up, socially distanced, for some community gardening is also a great excuse for coffee and cake!


If there is a green space near you that you think should be taken out of the Council's herbicide rota then write to your local councillor and please also let us here at Pesticide-Free Cambridge know. You are allowed to adopt your local verge if you apply to the County Council (see link here: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/.../improve-highways...), or if, for instance, you'd like to plant flowers. Or you may just want your local area not to be sprayed with harmful chemicals.




23 November 2021

PFC gave an illustrated presentation at PAN UK Pesticide-Free Towns Campaigners' Catchup meeting. We discussed the importance of reaching out to local groups which can support others' campaigns, such as environmental initiatives, friends of parks or other spaces, parent groups, as well as land managers. We also highlighted the key opportunity that is linking up with other local Pesticide-FreeTowns campaigns, universities, and councillors which might champion the issue. We highlighted the importance also of non plant protection chemicals such as insecticide powders which are frequently used in schools as well as members of the public, often on public pavements and streets. We also introduced our new project on pesticides and urban nature that is being run in collaboration with UCL. We also heard updates from Pesticide-Free Essex, and engaged in some really interesting discussion towards the end of the session (with further discussion continuing by email after the event).




6 Nov 2021

Pesticide-Free Cambridge had a stall at CambsCOP26 Coalition Global Day of Action because pesticides and synthetic chemicals in general are central to biodiversity and climate breakdown. For more on these connections see https://chemtrust.org/news/climatechangechemicals/

https://www.pan-uk.org/key-issues/




23 Oct 2021

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat and sign our petition at the CambsCOP26 Climate Fair on 23 Oct. It was great to have a stall at this event, with other groups including along with other supporting groups including COP26 Umbilical Cord 'We are all Connected', Cambridge Library of Things, Cambridge Schools Eco Council, Cambridge Stop The War Coalition, Cambridge Greenpeace, Cambridge Friends of the Earth, Clean Air Cambridge, Global Justice Now Cambridge, and Cambridge Climate Justice - FKA Zero Carbon.


We were proud to display our new banner, designed by one of our younger supporters, and enjoyed chatting with the many people who stopped by. We also had some PAN-UK Pesticide-Free Towns leaflets to give away, and some beautiful postcards including photographs and paintings, made by our members. You can still sign the digital version of our petition if you haven't done so already (https://www.change.org/.../cambridge-city-council-make...).

For further details about the event, see https://www.facebook.com/events/1750745971981774/?active_tab=discussion






17 Oct 2021

As invited Consultees on the Cambridge City Council's draft Biodiversity Strategy, PFC made the following submission. Note that the following only includes those answers where we answered more than a simple 'yes/no'.


2. Do you agree with our strategic objectives?

Yes, but see our comments below, especially for Q25.


4. Do you think the council should aim to achieve 20% biodiversity net gain on all measurable Cambridge City Council projects

Yes but this is clearly not enough, and this figure is predicated upon non sustainable growth in the first place. Cambridge City Council should be striving higher than this.


5. Do you think the council should promote green roofs?


Yes, as long as they're not doused with herbicides and moss poison that would undo any potential benefit.


6. Do you agree with the council’s involvement with the Cambridge swift project?


All bird populations are adversely affected by pesticides, so any such proposed Swift Project needs to be implemented in tandem with a commitment to pesticide elimination in both green spaces and the built environment.


7. Do you agree with the council’s tree strategy ?


Yes, brilliant but this needs to be followed in tandem with tighter regulations regarding tree removal / cutting, and herbicide spraying and damaging strimming around tree roots.


8. Do you agree with the council’s peat strategy ?


Yes, and any such decision needs to be taken in tandem with running awareness building campaigns amongst local residents, and by other major stakeholders, including local schools. Surely the City Council can enforce a ban of peat-containing composts in allotments that it owns.


10. Do you agree with the council’s Cam grazing project ?


Any Cambridge grazing project needs to ensure that the livestock is reared on organic principles, given that conventionally reared cows are treated routinely with pour-on worming and insect treatments, all of which have a negative impact on water quality, biodiversity and environmental public health especially given the numbers of children and families that use urban grazing meadows as recreation and picnic grounds.


12. Do you think the council should implement and support the enhancement measures in the Greater Cambridge Chalk Stream Project ?


Needs to be implemented in tandem with urgent action on urban, agricultural and veterinary pesticide use and the danger that run-off presents to the health of sensitive chalk streams.


17. Do you think the council should publish, promote, and implement the Parks Biodiversity Toolkit ?


Yes but this should include advice, in liaison with Pesticide Action Network UK, regarding pesticide-free alternatives to weed, moss, and insect control.


19. Do you think the council should continue our support for Cambridge as a Sustainable Food City?


Should be encouraging specifically organic food production grown without synthetic pesticides and fertilisers along the lines of Cofarm.


20. Do you think the council should Implement recreational pressure on biodiversity campaigns?


We're not quite sure, from the current wording, what this question actually implies, but if we are to understand that it means should you highlight the problem of recreational pressure on your own biodiversity campaigns, then yes, seems like a good idea, but not if this means that residents (and especially children) who are already seriously 'nature deprived' have further restrictions on their access to wild spaces.


21. Do you think the council should continue to engage with volunteers and groups around the City in practical actions to protect, enhance and monitor biodiversity?


Yes of course, but actually this process of engagement needs to be made much easier than it is, and frankly many local groups that we're in touch with are extremely frustrated to have to fight so hard and for so long to basically have the areas that they call home sprayed routinely with poisonous substances that threaten biodiversity and their families' health, and urban plants and verges that they value treated in a way that many regard as vandalism.


23. Do you think the council should implement annual campaigns to promote biodiversity across the City?


Absolutely, and need to highlight different themes ideally at different times of the year, and certainly more than once a year. This should include for example campaigns about the damaging environmental impacts of peat-containing compost, as well as mowing regimes, and synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used by residents, stakeholders and businesses in the city.


24. Do you think the council should continue our work on the Keep Cambridge Buzzing project?


Yes but this needs to be more specifically aligned with a pesticide-free campaign that also highlights the important pollinating role of a range of insects beyond just bees, including for example wasps, moths, and of also ants which play such an important role in soil health.


25. Do you think the council should continue with action to reduce the use of herbicides in the city’s public realm, phasing out its routine use as soon as feasibly possible, and engaging with other land managers and residents to follow suit?


We trust that the Council will implement its commitments made in its Motion of July 2021 to trial two herbicide free wards as soon as possible, with the view to eliminating all herbicide use by the end of 2022 and to work with Pesticide Free Cambridge to this end. Implementation is key as there's already been slippage in delivery of two trial wards from autumn 2021 to spring 2022. Is the biodiversity strategy and action on phasing out herbicides adequately resourced? It has moved forward since the appointment of a temporary Biodiversity Lead Officer but it is a major concern that the council will not be able completely phase out all herbicide use across the city by the end of 2022 if the Biodiversity Strategy overall is not properly resourced.


In light of Ecological Public Health arguments regarding the entwined human and environmental impacts of the destruction of nature and over-use of chemicals, together with robust evidence for the damaging impacts of herbicides on human health, and several successful court cases in recent years that have awarded damages to operatives injured through contact with glyphosate, the council should i) add explicit reference to the direct impact of pesticides on human health as well as air quality to its Biodiversity Strategy document which lacks any such emphases in its current form (although there are references to other sources of air pollution); ii) supply the spraying operatives with full PPE; iii) erect signage to indicate where spraying has taken place. This was mentioned as a possible objective in the July 2021 Motion, but we've been given no assurance as to when or if this will actually happen; iv) publish a schedule of when spraying will happen to alert the public; And v) conversely, erect signage in areas left unsprayed and unmown to let the public know this is being done for the benefit of biodiversity and public health (building therefore on existing plans outlined on p. 58 to ‘[raise] public awareness of ecologically sensitive weed management practices’).


The draft document (p. 59) refers to plans to encourage the Public to stop using pesticides in gardens, allotments and ‘other’ areas. There is a need for greater clarity as to what is meant here by ‘other’ areas and this category should include instances where private pesticide use (both herbicides and insecticides) impacts on public land either through drift, or through direct application of pesticides on public land. And by extension, if the Council is to stop using herbicides on land it owns or manages on behalf of the County Council, it also should prohibit the private use of pesticides on these areas, for example on pavements/roads that directly about private properties).


In addition to committing to tackling private residents' use of pesticides, the Council also should add explicit reference in its draft document to the need for it to work with and take the lead with regards local schools, businesses, sports grounds, and the universities, so as to achieve consistency with regards pesticide policy across the city as a whole.


The is also need for greater clarity in the Strategy Document regarding terminology surrounding pesticides, and in particular with regards the distinction between 'plant protection chemicals' (both herbicides and insecticides used directly on plants whether on streets/pavements or in private/public green spaces) and pesticides used in outdoor and indoor estates and facilities contexts. All of the references to pesticides in current council documents refer solely to the former, with no consideration of non –plant directed pesticides that also have a significant, and often even greater, impact on both biodiversity and health. There is significant porosity between plant/nonplant, and outdoor/indoor boundaries, but moreover, these substances, and especially insecticide powders commonly applied around the outer peripheries of buildings to treat ants, carry far beyond their point of application, both inside and outside, through drift and footfall.


31. Is there anything you think we have missed within the draft strategy?


Please see our recommendations for Q25.


32. Have you any suggestion as to how we might collaborate to deliver this strategy?


We already have a commitment in the July 2021 Pesticide-Free motion for the City Council to work in liaison with Pesticide-Free Cambridge and we look forward to ongoing constructive collaboration.






13 Oct 2021

PFC meeting with Healthy Planet Cambridge representative to discuss ways of working together.


7 Oct 2021

PFC submitted public questions to the Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee meeting on Thursday 7th October 2021. We were informed afterwards that they weren’t read out during the meeting due to lack of time but that we should receive a written response soon. These were minuted (https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/g3969/Printed%20minutes%2007th-Oct-2021%2017.30%20Environment%20and%20Community%20Scrutiny%20Committee.pdf?T=1) but despite follow up emails in December, as of Jan 2022 we still have received no formal response.

We, Pesticide-Free Cambridge, wish to ask the following questions at the upcoming Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee meeting this Thursday 7th October. We are unable to attend in person but would be very grateful if the questions can be submitted and put to the committee as per the democratic process. Do get in touch with us if anything is unclear.

We at Pesticide-Free Cambridge were happy that in the passing of Cllrs Porrer and Payne’s motion at the Full Council on 22 July, albeit with amendments, meant that we had, in principal, a statement of intent from the Council to explore herbicide-free alternatives for weed control in two wards before the next spraying season of this year (Sept 2021), in consultation with us at Pesticide-Free Cambridge, with the view to stopping all herbicide-use across the city by the end of 2022.

1. We have had some informal discussions with members of the Biodiversity team at Cambridge City Council about the best herbicide-free alternatives for the focused trial that they are running. For the subsequent two-ward trial, we have suggested both Arbury and Abbey as potential wards for the larger trial, along with Newnham, and have had support from Councillors in these wards, but have not yet received any information about formal decision making. Can the Council let us know whether a decision has been made over choice of trial wards, and when Pesticide-Free Cambridge will be included in related discussions?

2. Can the Council clarify why in a recent communication from Streets and Open Space they refer to herbicide-free alternatives currently being sought 'before the start of the 2022 cycle of treatments', given that it was agreed in the July motion that these would take place in the then-next spraying cycle of autumn 2021. Does this mean that city-wide herbicide spraying has already taken place in September, and have any wards been left out of the spraying schedule?

3. Could the Council confirm when the signage and information warning residents about planned spraying programmes will be actioned, given that the agreed motion promised to 'to explore the most effective methods of communicating with residents (and any additional resource implications) about any necessary herbicide applications, which may include the following commitments: ‘publishing the planned dates of herbicide treatments by road/ward for the remainder of 2021 and thereafter on the council’s website'. We consider this to be a minimum step towards reducing residents’ direct exposure to toxic glyphosate during the 5-10 days that it takes for plant die-off to occur.




7 October 2021

PFC attended Cambridge COP26 Coalition meeting

7 Oct

PFC (attended Peterborough and Cambridge Climate Action Coalition of which PFC is now a member group.


5 October 2021

PFC meeting with Chair of University of Cambridge Ecological Advisory Panel which is tasked with delivering the University’s 2020 Green Challenge Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP). We are keen the BAP should acknowledge urban pesticide use as an obstacle towards achieving its goals. Currently the document contains only a single reference to pesticides (1.49 page 17), and that is in relation solely to agricultural practices. We discussed ways of remedying the situation and of working constructively together which will include in the first instance an audit of UoC pesticide use, and agreeing on a list of priority chemicals that should be tackled first.


25 September 2021




Many thanks to everyone who stopped to chat with us on Parker's Piece at the Cambridge COP26 Climate Fair (12-4 pm), and who added their signatures to our petition which asks the City Council to stop using herbicides on Cambridge's streets and green spaces, as well as taking a proactive role in encouraging local stakeholders including the University, colleges, and schools, to ditch herbicides AND insecticides for the sake of biodiversity and human health.



Cambridge Independent article covering the event, including an interview with PFC.


If you haven't done so already, please do sign and share the digital version of our petition. We now have more than 600 signatures, but need more local ones in order to instigate a Full Council debate.


We'll also be at the next Cambridge COP26 Climate Fair on 23 October (details to follow), so do stop by and see us then if you can!



17 September 2021

PFC meeting with Cambridge Lawn Tennis club to discuss ways of working together to make the grounds pesticide free. We are in ongoing discussions as to best pesticide-free solutions for management of ‘weeds’ and moss on both grass and hard courts.


14 Sept 2021

PFC attended Pesticide-Free Towns Campaigner Catch-up: Protecting our Pollinators, with talks by Professor Dave Goulson, and campaigners from Pesticide-Free Birmingham


9 Sept 2021

PFC meeting with Streets and Open Spaces Biodiversity Project, Cambridge City Council. Discussed ways of working together over suitable herbicide alternatives to be trialled in two wards as agreed in the August city council motion. This will be preceded by a controlled micro trial of a variety of herbicide-free weed control methods in September which will help when it comes to rolling out the best alternatives across two wards in early 2022. We are still seeking clarity from the Council as to why the two-ward trial is not beginning until 2022 as this seems to contradict the commitment of the August motion to begin in Autumn 2021.


28 July 2021

Article in today's Cambridge Independent about Council's decision to explore ways of trialling two herbicide-free wards before the next spraying season this year, for a full roll out by the end of 2022.


https://www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk/news/trial-will-explore-ending-herbicide-use-in-cambridge-wards-9209495/


Many thanks to all the Councillors who have supported our campaign and worked with us to get to this point. Pity it's not an immediate ban as recently implemented in Bath, but much better than the stalemate that we've had until now.


27 July 2021

Press release about last week's motion - "Cambridge Liberal Democrats and Pesticide-Free Cambridge welcome moves towards making City pesticide-free, despite removal of key deadlines from council motion by Labour group."



https://www.cambridgelibdems.org.uk/pestcideresponse

Includes PFC statement as follows:

We are delighted that the motion has been passed, although Labour’s amendments have removed much of the clarity and force of the original motion which is disappointing. For example, with regards the timeline for trialling alternatives and phasing out herbicides across the city, original references to ‘commitment’ have been replaced by more vague terms such as ‘explore’ and ‘assess’ which raises the risk of further causes of delay, something that we have been highlighting over the last 14 months as a major contradiction to the Council’s 2019 declaration of a Biodiversity Emergency. Further, in the amended motion, the original proposal 'to commit to publishing the planned dates of herbicide treatments by road/ward for the remainder of 2021 and thereafter on the council’s website', is now preceded by the following qualification, 'to explore the most effective methods of communicating with residents (and any additional resource implications) about any necessary herbicide applications, which may include the following commitments’.



However, even with these amendments, we are happy that in the passing of this motion we now have, in principal, a statement of intent from the Council to explore herbicide-free alternatives for weed control in two wards before the next spraying season of this year (Sept 2021), with the view to stopping all herbicide-use across the city by the end of 2022. This is the first time we've seen any date at all for the end of council herbicide-spraying despite numerous statements of intent over the last year, and so this in itself is a major step forward and improvement on the previous stalemate. We will continue therefore to work with all concerned to try to hold the Council to this position, and to ensure it implements its intention to prewarn residents about spraying schedules, and to put up appropriate signage. This is something we’ve been suggesting for years as a minimum step towards reducing residents’ direct exposure to toxic glyphosate during the 5-10 days that it takes for plant die-off to occur. Further, we hope that by raising public concern amongst residents who may have been previously unaware this was even going on, such measures may also help to bring forward the end-of-2022 target for ending herbicide-use across the city.



We are hugely thankful to Councillors Katie Porrer and Cheney Payne for having worked with us to propose the motion, and we look forward to exploring herbicide-free alternatives with the Council to see what works best for the two as-yet-to-be-selected trial wards, in advance of the next spraying season in autumn of this year. As shown by case-studies from other towns that have successfully gone herbicide-free,(1) it is unlikely that a single method will fit the needs of every ward. We agree, therefore, that trialling different alternatives is a sensible approach especially as we have been unable as yet to persuade the Council to effect an immediate ban. This would have been the ideal route, as followed recently for example, by Bath Council who have switched to an immediate use of mechanical weeding until such time as alternative measures can be trialled.(2) However, we hope that two-ward trial this year will allow for a rapid rollout of the most appropriate herbicide-free approaches over the whole city as early as possible next year.



Even with its removal of crucial terms such as ‘commitment’ from the original motion, the Council’s declared intention to end its use of herbicides by the end of 2022 is a hugely important step towards achieving our end goal which is to make the city completely pesticide free, including the use of herbicides and insecticides by other stakeholders such as the universities, businesses, schools and residents. As shown by the nearly-550-signatures on our petition,(3) that also calls for the council to run public awareness building campaigns about the biodiversity and health dangers of pesticides, there is widespread support for removing these toxic substances not only from council-owned streets, pavements and open spaces, but from our homes and gardens too.



References:

1. https://www.pan-uk.org/pesticide-free-towns-success-stories/

2. https://www.chewvalleygazette.co.uk/article.cfm?id=108937&headline=Controversial%20weedkiller%20banned&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2021

3. https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-city-council-make-cambridge-pesticide-free


22 July 2021

We are pleased that Lib Dem Cllrs Katie Porrer and Cheney Payne's #pesticidefree motion at Thursday’s Full Council meeting was passed, albeit with amendments. We are so grateful to them and all the other City and County Councillors that we’ve been in discussion with over the last 14 months for supporting our campaign and for taking these crucial steps towards achieving our goal of a fully #pesticidefreeCambridge. We have been asking for a clear timeframe for over a year, and we do now have a declared intention, if not a firm commitment, to end all Council herbicide use by the end of 2022, which is excellent news, and which finally accords with the councils' declaration of a biodiversity emergency back in 2019.



The original motion proposed that two wards be selected as #herbicidefree trials in the next spraying season of 2021 so that appropriate alternatives could be selected, in discussion with us at Pesticide-Free Cambridge across the whole city by the end of 2022. It also proposed that herbicide spraying schedules be published in advance so that residents can take proactive precautions before interacting with these areas. It is disappointing that in Labour’s amendment, the original proposal 'to commit to publishing the planned dates of herbicide treatments by road/ward for the remainder of 2021 and thereafter on the councils' website', is now preceded by the following qualification, 'to explore the most effective methods of communicating with residents (and any additional resource implications) about any necessary herbicide applications, which MAY include the following commitments’.



https://twitter.com/CllrPayne/status/1418296955604721668

However even though this and other amendments remove much of the clarity of the original motion, we are delighted that its underlying intention remains in place including to end all council herbicide use by the end of 2022. We look forward to working with the City Council to explore which herbicide-free alternatives work best for the two as-yet-to-be-selected trial wards, in advance of the next spraying season in autumn of this year.


We are grateful to Cllrs Porrer and Payne for working with us and for proposing their motion, and to Cllr Collis and many other City and County Councillors for their overwhelming support of our campaign. The council's declared intention to end all council herbicide spraying by the end of 2022 is a hugely important first step towards achieving our end goal which is to make the city completely #pesticidefree, including the use of herbicides and insecticides by other stakeholders such as the universities, businesses, schools and residents. We look forward to continued collaboration with all concerned to make this happen.


You can watch the debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_B0gmsipC4k (starts at 2 hrs 33 with Cllr Porrer and Payne's excellent speeches, and also supportive comments of our campaign by Cllr Collis).


See entries below for wording of original motion and Labour's amendments.



22 July 2021

PFC meeting with Lib Dem Cllr Katie Porrer to discuss Labour’s amendment of Cllr Porrer and Payne’s motion to be discussed at tonight’s Council meeting.

21 July 2021

The proposed amendments to the Pesticide motion have just been published (p. 41) via https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/9757/information-pack-2.pdf

Amended text (with track changes) below.



21 July 2021

PFC meeting with Labour Cllr Alex Collis to discuss ways of working together on our campaign in advance of tomorrow’s Council meeting and Lib Dem’s Motion to make Cambridge pesticide-free. Other discussion points:


  • Our Petition which now has nearly 550 signatures.

  • Our planned contribution to the Biodiversity Draft Strategy Consultation (see below) on which we are listed consultees.

  • Relative pros and cons of hot foam v. brush machines as alternatives to herbicides. Unlikely that a one-fits-all solution will apply to the city as a whole. Different alternatices needed in different wards.

  • Pesticides on university-owned land.

  • Private use of pesticides on council-owned land.

  • Use of pesticides on new housing estates (Eddington, Trumpington Meadows).



19 July 2021

PFC sent out emails to all Cambridge Labour Councillors asking them to support Lib Dem Cllrs Porrer and Payne’s Motion for debate on 22 July. Received following response from Cllr Mike Davey on 22 July.


Attached is the position agreed by the Labour Group. Happy to talk through after this evenings meeting,

We welcome Cllr Porrer’s motion and are entirely supportive of the underlying principles. As you may well know, we made a commitment in our 2021 election manifesto to work towards making Cambridge a herbicide-free city. We fully recognise the part the city council has to play here and what we need to do as a council is work out what resources are needed to help this happen. It is the how rather than the what or why that any amendments we put forward will focus on.

Many of the actions put forward both by your organisation and in Cllr Porrer’s motion are in fact already underway, such as trials of alternative weed control methods, but there certainly are other areas we can look at. We particularly recognise the need that you’ve outlined for reviewing how we communicate with residents and communities on this, including an element of education as needed – and also the need for transparency, and partnering with organisations such as yours in the discussion of how we get to the goal that I think we all share

14 July 2021

Having worked with Lib Dem Cllrs Katie Porrer and Cheney Payne over the last few months, they have published a motion for discussion at next Council meeting (22 July), Item 6c. We are very happy that many of the points that we have raised with them, and at questions to council meetings have been incorporated into the Motion. https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=3963&x=1

Text as follows:

Councillor Porrer: Pesticide-free Motion

Council notes:

That it unanimously voted in favour of declaring a Biodiversity Emergency on 18th July 2019;

That this included reducing and removing the need to use pesticides on highway footpaths and verges, and to find viable and effective alternatives;

That the recent Biodiversity strategy focusses on open spaces but excludes roads, pavements and infrastructure which are still being treated with pesticides by council staff;

That with the changed control of the County Council, there is real opportunity to stop day to day pesticide use for weed management across our city within the next year.

Council resolves:

To commit to making two wards completely pesticide-free from now on as a trial, and making the relevant ward residents aware of this trial;

In order to do this, to commit to purchasing or hiring brush cleaning equipment to use in the pesticide free wards (and others where possible) with active involvement of Pesticide Free Cambridge representatives and frontline council staff to select the product, prior to the next planned round of treatments in 2021;

To report back to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee on the differences between the pesticide-free wards and those wards that are not pesticide-free, and on the use of the brush equipment before the start of the 2022 cycle of treatments. This would include information about operative time and savings or costs made, feedback from residents and operatives, and the level of any complaints or compliments;

To commit to publishing the planned dates of pesticide treatments by road/ward for the remainder of 2021 and thereafter on the council’s website, allowing residents to find out when a treatment is planned. This is because it can take several days before it is clear that a pesticide treatment has been applied and residents need to be informed so that they can choose to avoid the area and to keep children and animals in particular away from the treatment sites;

To commit, in addition to the online listings, to displaying signage in situ on the relevant roads and pavements with dates of any herbicide treatments from 2022 onwards.

To commit to publishing the amount of pesticide used each month and the cost to the council;

To commit officer time to working with community groups who may wish to volunteer to clear their street spaces to avoid pesticide use;

To commit to making Cambridge City Council pesticide free by the end of 2022.

To publish a regular six monthly update to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee on any exceptional usage of pesticide (for example for Japanese Knotweed) and to establish a clear protocol for any such usage, ensuring that the least harmful options are selected, including sign off by a senior manager before any use is permitted.

To commit to sharing the data on our trials with other councils considering similar trials and allowing an exchange of information (and visits if possible) for council staff to showcase and share Cambridge City Council’s learning.


8 July 2021

Responses to our questions submitted to Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee meeting (1 July) received as follows (answers in Bold). See published Minutes here for further details.








1 July 2021

PFC have submitted seven questions about the new Biodiversity Strategy and Toolkit for today's Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee meeting (https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=476&MId=3968&Ver=4 ). Our questions relate to the draft Biodiversity strategy document which following today's vote should go out for an eight-week consultation (PFC is on the list of consultees) for amendment/approval in October 2021

.

PFC QUESTIONS TO COMMITTEE

Q1 In light of the Council’s commitment to phasing out herbicides (see key targets pp 58-59 in the Draft Biodiversity Strategy document,(1) the 2019 Pesticides motion as well as the Biodiversity and Climate Emergency declarations, also 2019), will the council add an actual date by which it aims to complete this process?

Q2 Will the Council share and include details of which herbicide-free alternatives it has trialled already and which ones it is looking in to?

Q3 In the absence of a specific date to end herbicide use, and the fact that Pesticide-Free Cambridge has considerable local public support including several Residents Associations and Friends groups, while our petition has over 500 signatures,(2) and also because different methods may be called for in different areas, will the council agree to a trial, in the upcoming spraying season, herbicide-free methods in selected wards with different demographics and social needs (e.g., Newnham and Arbury/Kings Hedges and/or Abbey) to see what works best in different contexts?

Q4 In light of Ecological Public Health(3) arguments regarding the entwined human and environmental impacts of the destruction of nature and over-use of chemicals, together with robust evidence for the damaging impacts of herbicides on human health, and several successful court cases in recent years that have awarded damages to operatives injured through contact with glyphosate, will the council i) add explicit reference to the direct impact of pesticides on human health as well as air quality to its Biodiversity Strategy document which lacks any such emphases in its current form (although there are references to other sources of air pollution); ii) supply the spraying operatives with full PPE; iii) erect signage to indicate where spraying has taken place; iv) publish a schedule of when spraying will happen to alert the public? And v) conversely, erect signage in areas left unsprayed and unmown to let the public know this is being done for the benefit of biodiversity and public health (building therefore on existing plans outlined on p. 58 to ‘[raise] public awareness of ecologically sensitive weed management practices’)?

Q5 The draft document (p. 59) refers to plans to encourage the Public to stop using pesticides in gardens, allotments and ‘other’ areas. Can the council clarify what they mean by ‘other’ areas and will this category include instances where private pesticide use (both herbicides and insecticides) impacts on public land either through drift, or through direct application of pesticides on public land? And by extension, if the Council is to stop using pesticides on land it owns or manages on behalf of the County Council, will it also prohibit the private use of pesticides on these areas, for example on pavements/roads that directly abut private properties)?

Q6 In addition to committing to tackling public use of pesticides, will the Council also add explicit reference in its draft document to the need for it to work with local schools, businesses and the universities, so as to eliminate both herbicides and insecticides in these contexts too?

Q7 Will the council acknowledge the need to for clarity in terminology surrounding pesticides, and in particular with regards the distinction between 'plant protection chemicals' (both herbicides and insecticides used directly on plants whether on streets/pavements or in private/public green spaces) and pesticides used in outdoor and indoor estates and facilities contexts? All of the references to pesticides in current council documents refer solely to the former, with no consideration of non –plant-directed pesticides that also have a significant impact on both biodiversity and health. There is significant porosity between plant/non-plant, and outdoor/indoor boundaries, but moreover, these substances, and especially insecticide powders commonly applied around the outer peripheries of buildings to treat ants, carry far beyond their point of application, both inside and outside, through drift and footfall.

References:

1. https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s55962/Appendix%20A%20_%20Draft%20Biodiversity%20Strategy.pdf

2. https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-city-council-make-cambridge-pesticide-free

3. Morris, G. & Saunders, P. 2017. The Environment in Health and Well-being. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Environmental Science; Rayner, G. & Lang, T. 2012. Ecological Public Health: Reshaping the Conditions for Good Health. Oxford: Routledge.


24 June 2021

PFC meeting with Cllr Katie Porrer, Liberal Democrat Party Councillor for Market and Cllr Cheney Payne, Liberal Democrat Party Councillor for Castle.


We discussed a variety of topics all of which require further action:

  • PFC providing examples of Local authorities who have successfully gone herbicide-free so Cllrs Katie and Cheney can make contact.

  • PFC providing costings for a range of different mechanical alternatives to glyphosate use.

  • Need for Council to erect signage after they have sprayed public areas with herbicides so that people are aware that spraying has taken place, and in acknowledgement of the proven risks to health that direct exposure to glyphosate present.

  • Discussed the issue of why council operatives spraying glyphosate are not wearing protective gear, in light of proven health risks of exposure to glyphosate.

  • Need for Council to erect signage on verge areas that have been left to grow, as part of a public education strategy to distinguish between perceived neglect and active measures to boost biodiversity.

  • What alternatives to glyphosate spraying have been trialled or explored by the Council so far?

  • We discussed possibility of proposing to the City Council an initial herbicide-free trial period focusing on two very different wards in terms of socio-economic demographics, for instance Newnham and either Arbury, Abbey, King’s Hedges or East Chesterton. The possibility of mobilising mutual aid groups was discussed given that they have been extremely active during the pandemic.

  • We also discussed the ‘locals street adoption’ model that has been applied successfully in other regions, e.g., Lambeth, as a possible model in some wards of Cambridge where there is already significant community engagement through local residents’ associations.

  • Discussed the Biodiversity Supplementary Planning Document on verges for the Planning & Transport Scrutiny Committee meeting next week (29 June). Council now aiming for a 20% biodiversity gain and this document could be crucial, until the new Local Plan comes into effect.

  • PFC raised the need for a much clearer distinction between 'plant protection chemicals' (both herbicides and insecticides used directly on plants) and pesticides used in outdoor and indoor estates and facilities context. All of the references to pesticides in current council documents refer solely to the former and don't consider at all the latter which have significant impact on both biodiversity and health.



23 June 2021

PFC meeting with Cllr Hannah Charlotte Copley, Green Party Councillor for Abbey, and two other Green Party members

We discussed a variety of topics all of which require further action:

  • PFC will provide examples of other Local Authorities that have gone herbicide-free, especially where this has avoided switching to other costly weed-killing equipment such as foam. Lambeth and Hackney were discussed as LAs who have stopped routine herbicide spraying, switched to non-chemical weed removal and allowed residents to look after their own streets, encouraging a much greater tolerance of weeds as wildflowers overall.

  • HCC will share details of the Green Party’s own Integrated Weed Control programme.

  • PFC will submit questions about the new Biodiversity Strategy and Toolkit for the upcoming Environment & Community Scrutiny Committee meeting on 1st July. The Biodiversity strategy document will be discussed during next week’s meeting with the proposal that it goes out for an eight-week consultation (PFC is on the list of consultees) and gets approved or amended and approved in October 2021.

  • HCC followed up by email with links to related documentation:

Meeting Agenda

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=476&MId=3968&Ver=4

Councillors in attendance

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/mgMeetingAttendance.aspx?ID=3968

Biodiversity strategy https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s55961/Biodiveristy%20Strategy%20Committee%20Report%20Final.pdf

Biodiversity draft strategy

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s55962/Appendix%20A%20_%20Draft%20Biodiversity%20Strategy.pdf

Parks biodiversity toolkit

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s55963/Appendix%20B%20Parks%20Biodiversity%20Toolkit.pdf

List of consultees (including Pesticide-Free Cambridge, and our supporting group, On the Verge Cambridge) https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/documents/s55964/Appendix%20C%20-%20List%20of%20proposed%20stakeholders%20consultees.pdf



22 June 2021


PFC meeting with PAN-UK Pesticide-Free towns. Campaign update.

  • Discussed various case-studies in Europe and UK where herbicide-free alternatives have been successfully implemented and adapted to fit with local conditions and needs. This included places such as Allerod, Zealand, in Denmark where economic constraints led to a council education campaign that promoted public tolerance of certain level of ‘weediness’. More details on this and other European case-studies here.

  • UK case-studies discussed: Lambeth; Hammersmith and Fulham; Hackney, Bristol (unsuccessful herbicide-free trial, now reverted to herbicide use); Hove and Brighton; Scottish borders, Highland and Islands (Inverness); Stirling (Pesticide-Free Scotland).

  • PF-T to share contact details with us shortly so that we can discuss approaches directly with respective campaigners.

  • Discussed various herbicide alternatives from Hot Foam, to mechanical brushes, manual weeding, public awareness campaigns for greater tolerance of ‘weediness’, local street adoption (as successfully implemented in Lambeth). PAN-UK to share contact details with us shortly.

  • Discussed financial implications of each of the alternative methods in comparison with herbicides, more details on PAN-UK's Guide for Local Authorities.

  • Discussed the correlations between herbicide use and socio-economic inequality. For Cambridge, it may be necessary for different approaches to be implemented in different areas of the city, to fit with varying demographics and social needs.

  • There are different challenges presented by different urban zones, with cemeteries being a key example here, an excellent guide for which is provided in Pesticide Free Towns Europe Alternative Methods and Techniques Guide (PART III).


19 June 2021

PFC meeting with Hilary Cox Condron, Labour Cambs County Councillor for Arbury, Vice-Chair of Community, Social Mobility and Inclusion Committee, also community artist/Cambridge Curiosity & Imagination and Eco Capabilities.

We discussed a variety of topics all of which require further action:

  • PFC providing examples of Local authorities who have successfully gone herbicide-free so Hilary can make contact.

  • PFC providing evidence of pesticide-use (both herbicides and insecticides) in Cambridge schools and success so far.

  • PFC Pesticide-Free Schools campaign (see schools info page here with blog piece to follow shortly) and ways that we might work together. Hilary/PFC to ask the County Council to send a message to schools to encourage the embedding of a pesticide-free school policy county-wide.

  • Pesticide-Free Arbury - access to nature/clean green space is an equality issue, improves well-being, reduces crime etc… - establishing this ward as a herbicide-free zone could provide excellent model for the rest of the city.

  • Herbicide use on verges/paths – Hilary to support City Council in its commitment to phase this out and work with them on establishing a time-frame.

  • Extending campaign to end herbicide use on verges to Parish councils (and schools as above), ideally through liaison with partner environmental groups (see here for our allied groups).

  • Nature Heritage Month (details to follow)

Also various related projects were discussed:

  • More wildflower/long grass/cut and collect zone (eg Kings hedges Rd on Arbury Side, Sherbourne Rd/Close,  Nuns Way Recreation ground)

  • Pond-dipping at allotment pond (New Chesterton Allotment Soc, Howgate Rd).

  • Cambridge Conservation Initiative and/or Forum.

  • Urban Forest, Cambridge Canopy Project.

  • Arbury local nature walks.

  • Schools Meadows projects (two so far in Arbury, hopefully as many as ten in North Cambridge and beyond by Autumn 2021).

  • Keep Cambridge Buzzing & North Cambridge Pollinator Corridor info – ties in with On the Verge Cambridge, Keep Britain Tidy and City Council.



17 June 2021

The Cambridge West Central Area Committee (WCAC) met today and the agenda included discussion of our previous question about herbicide use in the city that we put to the last meeting on 11 March 2021. We were hoping to get some clarity as to why, contrary to what was decided in March, spraying all over the city has continued unabated throughout the Spring and early summer.


From the minuted questions and councillors' responses copied for the 11 March entry below, we note in particular, Cllr Harrison's comment that the "City Council was not contracted, authorised or permitted to put weedkiller onto the County Councils highway, and that the County Council’s policy was to move away from the use of pesticides except in the case of certain invasive species", and her "frustration that the City Council was continuing to put pesticides down on land it did not own, against the intentions of the County Council, and asked that the City Council provide clear instructions to their officers to stop".



A fellow campaigner asked the following question at the meeting:

At the meeting of West Central Area committee on 21st March there was agreement from councillors that pesticides should no longer be used on City Council land, and the minutes state that: 'Councillor Harrison had obtained clarification from a senior environmental officer from the County Council that the City Council was not contracted, authorised or permitted to put weedkiller onto the County Councils highway, and that the County Council’s policy was to move away from the use of pesticides except in the case of certain invasive species’. It is very disappointing therefore that spraying on footpaths has continued, and operatives in Newnham who were questioned about this said it was a County Council requirement to spray weeds as they are an obstruction and a danger to pedestrians. This is clearly nonsense. Residents are aware of the environmental harm caused by pesticides, and do not support their use, both the City and County Councils pay lip service to biodiversity - so why are they still spraying poison in our streets and how long will it take them to ‘move away’ from this ecocide?

Joel Carre, Head of Environmental Services at Cambridge City Council, reportedly replied that he had looked into it, and the information relayed by County Council to Cllr Harrison wasn't accurate - the County Council does not require spraying on verges any more, but still on highways and footpaths. He said the city was meeting with the County officers to work on phasing it out, and the cllrs were all supportive of that - Lucy Nethsingha, County Councillor for Newnham and Head of the County Council, said the officers should consider the alternatives that were available, including those that Pesticide-Free Cambridge suggested at the last meeting, and look into what other councils were doing about this. This is all great news but what we will continue to push for a firm commitment that there really will be no more spraying on verges having been told for over a year that spraying is 'about to be stopped', and to obtain a a firm date for when herbicide-free alternatives on pavements, channels and 'carriageways' will be implemented.


Agenda for meeting (17 June): https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=4081&Ver=4


Minutes etc of previous (11 March) meeting: https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=3885&Ver=4



14 June 2021

PFC are confirmed as one of several Supporters of Friends of the Cam - https://www.friendsofthecam.org/content/our-supporters


Friends of the Cam are a Cambridge based campaigning group committed to restoring the health of the river Cam and its tributaries for the benefit of nature. They are pledged to ending pollution of the river and over-abstraction linked to unsustainable growth in the area. They have developed a charter to express these commitments which they invite others to sign. https://www.friendsofthecam.org/content/about



We are proud to join several other supporting groups including founding group, Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF), of which PFC are also members, Cambridge Friends of the Earth, Cambridge Schools Eco Council, and Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.


11 June 2021

PFC attended Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF) and updated the group on our activities since the last meeting in February 2021.


9 June 2021

PFC email to Councillor Collis thanking her for her responses to our question at the full City Council meeting on 27 May (response awaited).

“Dear Councillor Collis

Naturally we welcome the 24.5% reduction in herbicide used by the City Council since 2018-2019, the cessation of herbicide spraying in parks and the commitment to exploring alternatives to chemical treatment of verges, footways and around street infrastructure such as trees and benches.

In a meeting with us last November Katie Thornburrow, your predecessor responsible for Open Spaces of course, stated that the contract with the County Council required herbicides to be used and therefore that was a stumbling block to change. We have since had clarification via County Councillor Nichola Harrisson that this is not the case. The County Council expressly do not want herbicides used on their verges or footways (the road channels are a different matter). Both Katie Thornburrow and Lewis Herbert, in a separate meeting (Cambridge Labour Environment Forum, January 2021), gave us their commitment to phasing out herbicides on these verges and working with other stakeholders to make the city pesticide-free.

Regarding the City Council actively exploring non-chemical alternatives to pesticides, can you tell us when a report on these alternatives might be presented to the City Council, presumably to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee? Also, by extension, when can we hope to see the 'Making Cambridge a Pesticide Free City' resolution from 2019 (1) come to fruition, specifically 'to reduce and remove the need to use herbicides on highway footpaths and verges' and 'to eliminate the use of pesticides on publicly accessed land in Cambridge, the aim that Cambridge becomes pesticide-free'?

From a recent FOI request we know that the area covered by just one herbicide used in 2019-2020 by the City Council (132 x 5 litres of Hilite) is 88 hectares or 880,000 square metres(2), and that is only one of four herbicides used. It is a truly shocking figure when one thinks of the immediate effect on wildlife but also the exposure to both operatives and residents.

We have considerable support from City Councillors, members of the public and Friends and Residents Associations. Indeed the Friends of Sheep's Green and Lammas Land, Newnham Croft RA and Barton Road & Barton Close RA wholeheartedly joined us at the WCAC meeting 11th March 2021 in proposing that the adjoining roads to Sheep's Green and Lammas Land no longer be sprayed. As well as this active support, it is clear that around Cambridge there is now a much higher tolerance for wildflowers (rather than plug plants) and areas of long grass (rather than just mown amenity grass). One can extend this tolerance to 'weeds' which, in many boroughs, towns and even countries, are now properly accepted as flowers. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you, ideally on Zoom or Teams, to discuss this further.”


(1) https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3600&Ver=4

(2) https://www.nomixenviro.co.uk/index.php/products/tdc-herbicides/hilite


8 June 2021

PFC email to Councillor Phillipa Slatter and Councillor Nick Gay explaining Pesticide-Free Cambridge’s aims and objects.


7 June 2021

PFC email to Councillor Alex Bulat and Cllr Neil Shailer explaining Pesticide-Free Cambridge’s aims and objects. Received supportive responses from both.


7 June 2021

PFC email to Cllr Alison Whelan and 25 other new County Councillors explaining Pesticide-Free Cambridge’s aims and objects.


4 June 2021

Received copy of Freedom of Information request submitted by fellow campaigner to Cambridge City Council on its herbicide-use policy. We are grateful to them for forwarding us the Council’s response, which you can read on our separate blog. In particular, the section outlining the volumes of herbicide used last year is truly shocking. We have estimated that the area covered by just one of the above mentioned herbicides used in 2019-2020 by the City Council (132 x 5 litres of Hilite) is 88 hectares or 880,000 square metres(1), and that is only one of four herbicides used. It is an alarming figure when one thinks of the immediate effect on wildlife but also the exposure to both operatives and residents.


“In 2019/20 Cambridge City Council’s Streets and Open Spaces Operational department used the following herbicides.

· 132 x 5 Litre Hilite

· 20 x 150 gram Chikara

· 20 x 5 Litre Trustee

· 8 x 5 Litre Roundup”


(1) https://www.nomixenviro.co.uk/index.php/products/tdc-herbicides/hilite


2 June 2021

Piece in today's Cambridge Independent about our campaign and petition! Many thanks to Paul Brackley for covering this. See link to our Facebook post here for scan of e-version of the print copy newspaper. An online version will be available soon - www.cambridgeindependent.co.uk



27 May 2021 We submitted the following Public Question to Cambridge City Council Full Meeting.


Further to the Cambridge Labour Party manifesto commitment to 'champion the elimination of herbicides on public land, including grass verges, and work towards being a herbicide-free city' (1), The Making Cambridge a Pesticide Free City motion in July 2019 (2) and the City Council Biodiversity Emergency Declaration in 2019 can the City Council give us your assurance that this spring will be the last time herbicides are applied to road verges, footways and street infrastructure on both City Council land and that managed by the City on behalf of the County Council? The 2019 motion (2) gives a date of 'end of 2022' to phase out pesticide use but, two years on, the Biodiversity Emergency worsens, and alternatives have been in use for some years now (3). Can we not end city council herbicide use now, as have many other towns (4)?
References:
(1) p. 11 of https://www.cambridgelabour.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/sites/117/2021/04/Manifesto-2021-web-site-1.pdf (2) https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3600&Ver=4 (3) https://www.pan-uk.org/information-for-local-authorities/ (4) https://www.pan-uk.org/make-my-town-pesticide-free/

We subsequently learnt that the original reference to 2022 in the 2019 motion had been removed in an amendment before the motion was put forward. So the commitment to phase out herbicides effectively proceeded with no clear timeframe given, and indeed we continue to push for clarity on when this is going to happen.


Specifically, the motion to the city council to ban pesticides in Cambridge (https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=116&MId=3600&Ver=4), proposed by Cllr Martinelli in July 2019, had been amended by Cllr Thornburrow. If the original motion had been passed then the city council would have resolved to:

1) Commit to stopping all use of pesticides on Cambridge City Council's open spaces within the next year

2) Bring a report to the Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee defining a strategy for the complete phase out of pesticide use by the end of 2022

3) Establish a stakeholder forum including Cambridgeshire County Council, members of the public and local landowners to assist in implementing the strategy.’

The amended motion REMOVED certain clauses, amongst them being:


‘-Exposure to pesticides is associated with human disease, harm to wildlife and contamination of our natural resources.

- Safe and effective alternatives to the use of chemical pesticides exist and are in use by other local authorities who have committed to becoming pesticide-free.

- Trials this year of stopping herbicide use in a number of parks in Cambridge have been successful without significant negative impact on either the quality of the area or the Council's resources.’

In the form in which the motion passed it leaves the commitment to making Cambridge pesticide-free completely open-ended. Really, all the council committed to do was to discuss and consult further.



We were pleased to learn in Councillor Alex Collis’ reply that the council have achieved a 24.5% reduction in the volume of herbicide used in the city since 2018/19, and about a Parks Biodiversity Toolkit that is about to be published which will also help promote biodiversity both in parks and beyond and this all sounds great. She also said they're looking at designing out infrastructure that requires weeding and implementing an integrated weed control management plan, and that it was committed to following the Plantlife Verge Management Guidelines (more details on our main website here). She also mentioned that a digital mapping system, to be introduced later this year, will enable the designation of different zones.


However, we are seeking clarity on whether this means that some areas will be labelled as ‘don’t spray’, and we continue to press for a firm position on precisely when the non-chemical alternatives that she mentioned are being looked into for non-park areas such as council housing and county verges will be introduced. We remain frustrated by lack of clarity on precisely when spraying on county verges is going to stop. We have been told over the last year that spraying on verges is about to stop but still have no precise timeline. We were told by the County Council in February this year that County did not approve of verges that they owned being sprayed by the City Council. We are still seeking clarity on what the situation is for verges owned by other stakeholders, such as in privately owned housing estates, but if County do not want their streets being sprayed then this clearly contradicts what we were told by City Council in November last year that they were constrained by county wishes in this regard.


------------


Full text of Cll Collis’ response from printed minutes

“The Executive Councillor responded that the council remained fully committed to a herbicide free city. Since 2018/19 there had been a 24.5% reduction in the volume of herbicide used in the city but was aware there was still much more to do.
The Council recognised that the city’s parks, open spaces and road verges provide significant opportunities for habitat enhancement to help buffer and connect the existing network of natural green spaces, already designated and managed for their biodiversity value.
Herbicides were no longer used in maintenance regimes on the Council’s parks and open spaces as part of the biodiversity emergency motion.
Recent investment in new IT and software afforded us the opportunity, for the first time, to be able to produce digital plans and maps of our parks and open space sites and their associated physical infrastructure (eg. paths, benches, bins) and natural assets. Using these asset plans, we can define designated zones/ areas for different types of management treatment, including long grass, close mown amenity grass and wildflower meadow. This functionality is currently being developed for operational adoption from late 2021.
A Parks Biodiversity Toolkit had been produced to support residents and community groups to enhance the biodiversity in their gardens and neighbourhoods.
Other parts of the city were more of a challenge. This included council properties and County Council highway assets untreated ‘weeds’ in hard surfaces (including roads, pavements and cycle paths) presented a health and safety risk (including slips, trips and falls). Would continue to work hard to explore effective alternatives to chemical herbicides in those areas. The council was undertaking a review of street furniture and public realm to design out areas that require herbicide treatment.
Committed that any new environmental improvement schemes and adopted open spaces would not need herbicide maintenance and to adopt the Plantlife guidance on changes to verge maintenance. Reduce the need for the use of herbicides by adopting other viable alternatives and integrated weed control management system. Develop best practice and offer advice and maintenance services to others”

  • Complete meeting documentation here.

  • Minutes accessible here.

  • Link to Meeting Agenda (our question is listed as no. 8) can be accessed here.

  • Link to video of meeting (the answer to our question, no. 8, starts at 1:25:26) accessible here.


24 May 2021

PFC email correspondence with Hannah Charlotte Copley, new City Councillor for Abbey Ward, Green Party. A meeting is currently being arranged with Cllr Copley and other members of the Cambridge Green party to discuss how we might work together to make Cambridge pesticide-free.



20 May 2021

PFC emailed Nichola Harrison, Lib Dem County Councillor for City, to follow up on earlier discussion about pesticides in schools, and to report ongoing herbicide spraying all over Cambridge in the last month. We also raised the issue of Parish Councils still spraying with herbicide on their verges. As in the city this is County land we are keen to extend the same logic to this situation and ask the Parishes to phase it out. We asked if she and her party (and, indeed, we will approach the progressive coalition that now runs Cambs County) would support us in a letter to all Parish Councils making this explicit demand.

20 May 2021

Constructive email exchange with Councillor Katie Porrer, Lib Dem, about our question to full council meeting on 27 May.

19 May 2021

Ongoing correspondence with members of Abbey People about how best to work together over pesticide-related issues in Abbey, and also over pesticides in the area. A meeting is being arranged.


18 May 2021

PFC attended PAN-UK Pesticide-Free Towns Campaigners’ meeting to discuss Pesticide-Free Towns campaigns. Updates provide by Pesticide-Free Wombourne who are doing some fantastic work, and a great talk by the Rebel Botanists group.


18 May 2021

PFC attended Barrister and activist Paul Powlesland's talk on Nature Rights, organised by Friends of the Cam, during which he presented the argument for legal recognition of the rights of nature, and the rights of rivers.

Link to recording here:

PFC contributed to the discussion after the talk. Link to chat text here:


11 May 2021

PFC emailed Councillor Katie Thornburrow, further to the local elections, asking for clarity on time frame for eliminating herbicide use on verges (awaiting reply).

"Dear Cllr Thornburrow

Congratulations on being re-elected! I trust we can now pick up where we left off pre-election and work together to make Cambridge Pesticide-Free. In particular, I hope we can now phase out herbicide use on road verges as agreed. I know you have someone looking at non-chemical alternatives. Can you share the timeframe for this? We've seen a lot of verge spraying around the city this spring though it's hard to say at present whether some areas have been untouched or it just isn't showing yet.


It's clear that the verges along Fen Causeway have been left alone - so far - of course we are extremely keen that those verges around Sheeps Green and Lammas land are kept out of the spraying rota, as per the wishes of the Friends groups and local residents associations. Any light you can shed on that would be very welcome.


Regarding the cut and collect verge mowing trial, we are pleased to hear that the operatives are using the machine on key verges around the city already. If we can match this with non-chemical weed control machines that would be great"

10 May 2020

Emailed new mayor Nik Johnson to follow up on earlier correspondence in January 2021 to congratulate him on his new role and to suggest a meeting. Received a supportive response, and agreed on a meeting once he’s settled into role.


5 May 2021

Very encouraging meeting with Cambridge school to discuss ways of addressing pesticides in school grounds. Agreed that herbicides and insecticide powders for treating ants should be prioritised for phasing out first given that there are available alternatives for both.


29 April 2021

PFC attended CambsCOP26 meeting and introduced aims of PFC and how they could fit with the broader CambsCOP26 agenda.


6 April 2021

PFC presentation to and discussion with residents of Hinton Avenue, Queen Edith’s, with On the Verge Cambridge, concerning wildlife-friendly gardening and going pesticide-free.


31 March 2021

PFC attended follow up meeting with Friends of Sheeps Green & Lammas Land, Newnham Croft Residents Association further to earlier meeting on 4 Feb 2021.

24-26 March 2021

Constructive email exchange between PFC and Labour Councillor Jocelyne Scutt who supported our objectives. Discussed ways of addressing pesticides in schools and the Universities and their colleges, as well as how to address herbicide use on verges owned by them.


23 March 2021

PFC emailed Councillors Jocelyne Scutt and Katie Thornburrow (cc Nichola Harrison) to follow up on WCAC meeting on 11 March 2021.

"We wanted to follow up on my questions at the WCAC meeting. Specifically we are very keen to clarify several points as they are crucial regarding our objective of making Cambridge Pesticide-Free:

1. Cambridge City isn't just one of two of Councils to have stopped using pesticides in green spaces. The PAN-UK map here shows those Councils that have restrictions in place - there are well over 20.

2. The new verge management trial (which is fantastic by the way) is a separate issue from making Cambridge pesticide-free.

3. Can you acknowledge that the County have said they expressly do NOT want pesticides used on their verges, footways and street infrastructure? It's a misconception that pesticide use in these areas is in the verge management contract between the County and the City. Cllr Nichola Harrison, cc'd in, has established this without doubt.

You know we are extremely supportive of your work in parks and open spaces. Cambridge can be proud of its pesticide-free green spaces and the amazing progress on verge management and city park wildflower meadows. But the City must expand the phasing out of pesticides to verges and footways in order to make good on its Biodiversity emergency declaration and for the public health of its residents. And we now know that the main obstacle raised in our November meeting - the verge contract - no longer stands in our way.

We look forward to hearing from you and making progress on this vital issue".



31 March 2020

PFC emailed Katie Thornburrow in response to her email of 15 March.


"Belated thanks for your reply. Of course we do respect the fact that we are operating under continued and further financial constraints and absolutely we acknowledge that the City Council has pledged to make Cambridge pesticide-free.

Is it not possible, though, to take certain roads out of the herbicide rota (those adjacent to Sheeps Green and Lammas Land in this case), in the same way that we have taken some verges out of the mowing rota (Bradrushe Fields)?"

15 March 2021

PFC received response from Councillor Katie Thornburrow to our email of the same day

"Dear Pesticide-Free Cambridge
This may be the expressed opinions of the county councillors but we are dealing with an existing contract for a service agreement that has been in place for several years and, as for all contracts, can not unilaterally be changed.
I think we have already assured you that detailed discussions are ongoing about the service agreement along with trials of the new cut-and-collect vehicle. It is our stated aim to work PlantLife standards for the verges.
The City Council has made great achievements in the area of becoming a herbicide-free parks and open spaces. Our Council motion of 2019, also stated that we would work with the County to become herbicide-fee verges, and thirdly to work with residents, businesses and other organisations to become a herbicide-free city.
All this has to be done within dwindling financial resources for central government necessitating major rethink about services across the Council.
Kind regards
Katie

Katie Thornburrow

Ward Councillor for Trumpington
Executive Councillor, Planning Policy and Open Spaces


15 March 2021

PFC email to Councillor Katie Thornburrow trying to get clarity on the relationship between City and County when it comes to the former’s spraying of land owned by the latter, when we’ve been told that County don’t want their verges sprayed.


"Further to this, I should have explained that prior to the WCAC meeting we received confirmation from Councillor Nichola Harrison about the County's position on pesticides. She has had it both stated and confirmed that the County Council neither requires nor wants pesticides (generally herbicides of course) to be used on the County road verges, footways and on street infrastructure that are maintained by the City Council. In fact, they explicitly do NOT want pesticides to be used there. I believe the one area where they consider it acceptable is in the road channel - the very edge of the road - to maintain a safe and clean road.


In our zoom meeting with you on 19/11/20, the understanding was that the County required pesticides to be used in these areas. Our impression from the meeting was that the City council thought it was written into the verge management contract. And it was said in the meeting that if the County said they did not want pesticides used then the City and its operations team would find an alternative right away.


Well, as we have clarification from the County that they do not want this to happen on their land then this removes the one major obstacle to progress. We can build on the great work you've already done in phasing out pesticides in parks and green spaces and extend this to the County verges, footways and street infrastructure managed by the City.


For details of who Cllr. Harrison spoke to I urge you to contact her directly. She was very thorough and obtained urgent confirmation prior to the WCAC meeting.


Looking forward to working with you on this and improving our city yet further. "




11 March 2021

Following WCAC meeting, PFC emailed Cllr Gehring and Cllr Nethsinga whose area includes Queens Green. Both had been supportive in the meeting

“Dear Councillor Nethsinga Many thanks for your vocal support in yesterday evening's WCAC meeting. Your suggestion of extending the Sheep's Green/Lammas Land pesticide-free zone to include Queen's Road and Queen's Green is a great idea. What that tells us, though, together with what was said by Cllrs Gehring, Scutt, Harrison, Matthews and Porrer, is that we have broad support for our overall goal of making the whole of Cambridge City a pesticide-free zone. That is, indeed, our aim - please see our website Pesticide-Free Cambridge for more information on our various campaigns including council land, schools, the university and more as well as our petition to the city council. We do hope you will sign and share. We very much look forward to working with you. Do get in touch if you have any questions or wish to talk to us directly.”



11 March 2021

PFC attended West Chesterton Area Committee (WCAC) meeting, together with Josh Matthews, Katie Porrer, Nichola Harisson, Jocelyne Scutt, Joel Carre (head of green spaces/environment), Cllr Nethsinga, Cllr Gehring.

· PFC in our question to the meeting, mentioned our email of 1 March from Pesticide-Free Cambridge, Friends of Sheeps Green and Lammas Land, Newnham Croft Residents Association and On the Verge Cambridge to Cllr Katie Thornburrow and Cllr Lewis Herbert. We asked for an end to all City Council herbicide use in and around Sheeps Green and Lammas Land and the adjacent roads Fen Causeway and Newnham Road. Although herbicides are no longer used in parks and playgrounds, they continue to be sprayed on the adjacent verges and on street infrastructure (lampposts, benches and so on). Non-chemical alternatives are available and we know that the City Council is investigating them.

· We reported that on 2nd March our proposal also received the support of the Barton Road and Barton Close Residents Association. We know that councillors from different parties are in favour of phasing out herbicides (we have had very positive meetings with Cllrs Harrison, Herbert, Matthews, Porrer and Thornburrow) and we have extensive local public support. Therefore our question is can we not make Sheeps Green, Lammas Land and their adjacent road verges and footways a completely herbicide-free zone now?

· We believe, from discussions with Nichola Harrison, that the County Council does not want the road verges managed by City Council to be sprayed with herbicides. It is not, as it has been described, because of a contractual obligation to the County, that City Council uses herbicides to manage weeds on footways (pavements) or road verges. Therefore, will the City Council make it a priority to end pesticide use on the footways and road verges that they manage for the County?


From the minuted questions and councillors' responses copied below, we note in particular, Cllr Harrison's comment that the "City Council was not contracted, authorised or permitted to put weedkiller onto the County Councils highway, and that the County Council’s policy was to move away from the use of pesticides except in the case of certain invasive species", and her "frustration that the City Council was continuing to put pesticides down on land it did not own, against the intentions of the County Council, and asked that the City Council provide clear instructions to their officers to stop".


Minutes etc of meeting:

https://democracy.cambridge.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=117&MId=3885&Ver=4



--------

Relevant section from MINUTES:


3. A member of the public raised the following issues:
i. Pesticide-Free Cambridge, Friends of Sheeps Green and Lammas Land, Newham Croft Residents Association and On the Verge Cambridge wrote recently, at the beginning of this month, to Councillor Thornburrow and Councillor Herbert. They asked for an end to all City Council pesticide use in and around Sheeps Green and Lammas Land and the adjacent roads, Fen Causeway and Newnham Road. Although pesticides were no longer used in parks, they continued to be sprayed on the adjacent verges and on street infrastructure, lampposts, benches and so on. Non-chemical alternatives were available and they knew that the City Council was investigating them. On 2nd March their proposal also received the support of the Barton Road and Barton Close Residents Association. Knew that councillors from different parties were in favour of phasing out pesticides. They had had very positive meetings with Councillors Harrison, Herbert, Matthews, Porrer, Thornburrow and there was extensive local public support.
ii. Asked if Sheeps Green, Lammas Land and their adjacent road verges and footways could be a completely pesticide-free zone now and Believed that the County Council did not want the road verges managed by the City Council to be sprayed with pesticide. It was not, as had been described, a contractual obligation to the County that the City Council used pesticides to manage weeds on footways, pavements or road verges.
iii. Asked if the City Council would make it a priority to end pesticide use on the footways and road verges that they manage for the County, and ideally give a date when that might happen?
The member of the public clarified that when using the term pesticides, this was referring to herbicides, insecticides and similar substances.
Councillor Matthews supported the matters addressed and suggested writing a letter of support to Cambridge City Council on behalf of the West Central Area Committee.
Councillor Scutt stated that the issue of pesticide use had been raised at the Environment and Sustainability Committee at the County Council, and that Councillor Thornburrow had provided assurances that the city council did not use pesticides. Councillor Scutt would raise this matter again with both the County Council and City Council and fully supported the issues raised.
Councillor Nethsingha asked if it was possible to expand the area discussed to include Queens Road and Queens Green where there was spraying in the previous year, as grass control could be carried out with a strimmer instead of pesticides.
Councillor Gehring asked why both councils stated they did not wish to use pesticides, but they were still being used on pavements, and requested a voluntary refusal to use any new neonicotinoids on council land or land that has been rented from the county council.
A further member of the public suggested raising this matter with the university and their estate, and Councillor Matthews stated that discussions with local groups had also mentioned approaching local schools about the issue.
Councillor Harrison said that in answer to a recent written question by Councillor Porrer, the City Council acknowledged that herbicides were being used on highway and housing land as there were ‘limited alternative effective controls’. Councillor Harrison had obtained clarification from a senior environmental officer from the County Council that the City Council was not contracted, authorised or permitted to put weedkiller onto the County Councils highway, and that the County Council’s policy was to move away from the use of pesticides except in the case of certain invasive species. The councillor also expressed frustration that the City Council was continuing to put pesticides down on land it did not own, against the intentions of the County Council, and asked that the City Council provide clear instructions to their officers to stop.
Councillor Porrer expressed concern that members of the public may assume that grass verges were pesticide free when they were not and suggested adding signage to explain why vegetation may be less tidy.
Action Point: County Councillors to seek further clarity from their organisation, and Councillor Matthews to discuss submitting letter to Cambridge City Council and other stakeholders in the city on behalf of West Central Area Committee supporting the points.


2 March 2021

Barton Road and Barton Close Residents Association extended their support to Pesticide-Free Cambridge’s campaign, especially as far as it relates to Newnham and Barton road, through a letter to Councillors Thornburrow and Herbert, urging them to work with us.


1 March 2021

PFC, together with Pesticide-Free Cambridge, Friends of Sheeps Green and Lammas Land, Newnham Croft Residents Association and On the Verge Cambridge emailed Councillors Thornburrow and Herbert asking for clarity on the timeframe for phasing out herbicides on road verges and other areas (no reply).


"Dear Katie & Lewis It was great to have your support at the CLEF meeting recently. It is good to know you are both keen to build on your achievements in making Cambridge pesticide-free (specifically by extending the herbicide ban to road verges) but also to work together with other stakeholders - such as the County Council and South Cambs - to deal with the broader problem of pesticides (including both herbicides and insecticides) on pathways, roads, homes and in school grounds and buildings. In our recent meeting (20th January), you mentioned that there was a plan to extend the ban from parks to road verges in the immediate future. Are you able to give us a firm timeframe for when this is likely to be implemented please?


The Newnham Croft Residents’ Association and members of the Friends of Sheeps Green and Lammas Land quite rightly have protested about this before and it was agreed last year not to spray under the Driftway hedge and some of the Newnham Road verge, but herbicide was still used in other places on Lammas Land. Given the importance of these areas as green spaces, as childrens' play areas and their proximity to the Cam, we should be doing our utmost to make them safe for people and improve their biodiversity. As you may know, the verges and paths along the adjacent roads Fen Causeway and Newnham Road are sprayed with herbicide twice a year as are the lampposts, trees and other street infrastructure (see attached photos). The rectangle made up of Sheep's Green and Lammas Land and adjoining roads Fen Causeway and Newnham Road is an ideal location to stop applying pesticides altogether. That is to say, to not just phase out pesticides on the verges (which has happened already - or is soon to be?) but also on the paths, the road edges, around the benches, lampposts and trees and so on. And it would be best to act now, before the spring wave of herbicide application happens.


We know you are committed to the Climate and the Biodiversity Emergency. Let's show that we can take real action to back up that commitment. Verges are taken out of mowing regimes here and there so as to allow nature-friendly community planting (Gough Way and Ferry Path for example). Surely we can take the paths and verges alongside Sheep's Green and Lammas Land out of the herbicide rota? The benefits for nature and the community would be significant. Taking these simple steps in and around one of Cambridge's best-loved green spaces would demonstrate the way forward for an even greener, better city. We have all heard the reasons why such a change cannot be done - it's the County, it's too difficult, the (literal) obstacles in the way - but the emergencies we face are so pressing that we have to make this happen."

18 Feb 2021

PFC attended Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF) meeting with Cllr Katie Thornborrow, and Cllr Mike Davey to whom we outlined our plans. Both confirmed their support.

12 Feb 2021

PFC meeting with Councillor Porrer (City Lib Dem), Councillor Matthews (City Lib Dem), and Councillor Harrison (County Lib Dem for City) who were all very supportive of our aims to tackle herbicide use by the Council, and both herbicide and insecticide use in schools, businesses, and private contexts. Nichola Harrison gave us an extremely useful explanation for the terminologies for dividing up footway: i) pavement; ii) channel (drop of kerb); iii) carriageway. Whilst weed killing in channels, using herbicides, is carried out by city council on behalf of county council., she informed us that for verges owned by county council, she had been told by a senior environmental officer that the County do not approve of it and want the city council to stop it. She explained that for verges owned by other stakeholders, such as in privately owned housing estates there can be considerable complexity when it comes to establishing which streets are owned by whom.

If County council do not want streets owned by them in Cambridge to be sprayed, this contradicts what we’ve been told by Labour city councillors that the city is constrained by county wishes.


.

9 Feb 2021

PFC participated in Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF) and Friends of Cam (https://www.friendsofthecam.org) meeting.



4 Feb 2021

PFC meeting with members of Friends of Sheeps Green & Lammas Land and Newnham Croft Residents Association. Discussed ways of working together to make Cambridge pesticide free, beginning with a proposal to City council that the verges around Sheeps Green and Lammas Land be kept herbicide free (see collective letter to Cllrs Thornburrow and Herbert on 1 March).


4 Feb 2021

PFC email to Cllr Rosy Moore in her capacity as Councillor for Coleridge Ward, and also as Executive Councillor for Climate Change, Environment and City Centre to follow up on our unanswered emails of 30 April 2020 and 25 January 2021 (no reply).


Copy of our email below: “We at PAN-UK Pesticide-Free Cambridge have now joined forces with On the Verge Cambridge and other environmental groups in Cambridge, including Cambridge Labour Environmental Forum, with the aim of tackling pesticide use in the city. It seems increasingly illogical that the city Council has recognised the climate emergency and yet continues to use toxic herbicides on its streets, pavements and verges, and we would hope that you in your capacity as Executive Councillor for Climate Change would support us in our efforts to make Cambridge a pesticide-free city. We have recently launched a petition to the city council and will shortly be following up with a similar petition to the county council. https://www.change.org/p/cambridge-city-council-make-cambridge-pesticide-free


It would be great if we could meet sometime (on Zoom) to discuss further as to how the recent changes to weed management in the city's parks might be extended to a city-wide ban of herbicides and insecticides. Please let us know if you have any availability in the next few weeks”.

29 January 2021

PFC meeting with Cambridge Friends of the Earth to discuss the alleged contamination of the Cam through runoff via the Riddy stream during and following the earlier repurposing of the former Bayer pesticides factory site in Hauxton.


Legacy residents’ campaigning site: http://thestunthouse.com/hauxair/index.html


Three videos of talk by Dr Damien Downing, President of the British Society of Ecological Medicine, to Hauxton and surrounding villagers about the health impact of chemical pollution in relation to the remediation of the Old Bayer CropScience site:

Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DRKxxMA2l-U

Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMdN9EAmzjk

Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBtJZcsXhdo


Old media reports:

https://theecologist.org/2011/jun/29/contaminated-bayer-site-houses-get-green-light-despite-health-risks

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-20851614

https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2012/05/495965.html https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2011/06/481498.html http://www.cbgnetwork.org/3421.html http://www.cbgnetwork.org/3031.html http://www.cbgnetwork.org/4.html http://www.cbgnetwork.org/



Links to South Cambs Bayer environmental monitoring data from the ‘decontamination’ phase.


https://web.archive.org/web/20131116100857/https://www.scambs.gov.uk/bayersite


https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/7432/bayer-site-month-5-environmental-monitoring-augu.pdf

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/7433/bayer-site-month-8-environmental-monitoring-nove.pdf

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/9534/month-3-environmental-monitoring-june-2010.pdf

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/7437/bayer-site-non-technical-summary-month-6.pdf


https://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s38141/Appendix%201%20-%20Environmental%20Statement%20Redevelopment%20Non-Technical%20Summary.pdf

https://www.scambs.gov.uk/media/6662/addendum-to-contract-completion-report-december-2012.pdf


https://scambs.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s39428/Appendix%201%20-%20Report%20to%20the%20August%202009%20meeting.pdf

27 January 2021

PFC attended Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF) meeting. PFC announced our recently launched petition and campaign.

25 January 2021

Further to CLEF meeting on 20 January 2021 PFC sent follow up emails to Katie Thornburrow, Lewis Herbert, and Rosy Moore asking for clarity on dates for phasing out herbicide use on verges (no reply).


20 January 2021

PFC attended Cambridge Labour Party Environment Forum (CLEF) meeting with Councillors Lewis Herbert and Katie Thornburrow. PFC outlined the aims and rationale for our campaign. Cllrs Thornborrow and Herbert made verbal commitment to work together with county and South Cambridgeshire with regards herbicides on verges.


PFC followed up afterwards by email:

"Dear Katie and Lewis

Very good to engage with you at the recent CLEF meeting. Apologies that we couldn’t stay until the end. But we covered a lot of ground and it is great to know you are both very supportive of our PAN-UK backed Pesticide-Free Cambridge campaign. As discussed, building on the herbicide ban in parks and open spaces is a real practical step to address the Biodiversity Emergency that the City Council has, of course, recognised. On that note, can you update us as to whether the City Council has now formally agreed to extend this ban to the road verges it manages on behalf of the County? We know from our previous talk with you, Katie, that this is scheduled to happen. If there is a link to this being formally approved we can then send that on to Pesticide Action Network UK to update their Pesticide-Free Towns page ( see here for their Success Stories page which links to the City's earlier decision on parks and open spaces). We have launched our petition to make Cambridge pesticide-free, and this is gaining momentum. In terms of next steps, we are very keen that the herbicide ban be extended not only to verges but also to pathways, roads, pavements and street infrastructure (lampposts, trees, benches etc...). If we are not spraying parks and verges, it makes little sense to continue to do so on adjacent roads, and paths which run through parks that are apparently herbicide-free. This also gives a confusing message to residents who have taken at face value the information on Council websites that spraying has been stopped in such places. From our previous discussion with you, Katie, and the Operations team, it seemed that this required 1) a commitment to trialling new equipment and 2) liaison with County Council. At the CLEF meeting you both agreed to work with the surrounding local authorities to address the major issues that were raised. Let's make this happen.On the subject of trialling equipment, I can quote from Pesticide-Free Newcastle: 'The weed control method that several local authorities and housing associations now use is a ride-on brush machine. These include Sheffield, Portsmouth, Cleveland, Penzance, Isle of Man and the University of Lincoln. A German company called Westermann produce a popular ride-on machine – Honda Brush Machine. . The chief distributor in the UK is Spa Power Machinery (tel. 0114 269119). These machines are convenient to use. They can resolve a complaint from the public about weeds very quickly.' But this is not the only alternative to herbicides - see the attached document. We know parked cars and awkward street infrastructure can make weeding difficult (that's what the Ops team said anyway), but we sincerely hope that we can push past that. Our petition also seeks to encourage the council to run an information campaign for highlighting the dangers of herbicide and insecticide-use by members of the public in their homes and gardens, and to work wit