Door open to non-toxic weed control methods for Coast

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After a five-hour debate on November 12, it is now possible to end the domination of the controversial weedkiller glyphosate for weed control along local roads.

Glyphosate was named “a probable human carcinogen” by the World Health Organisation five years ago. On the Coast, a mixture of weed eating and glyphosate is currently in use on roadsides.

The meeting of Auckland Council’s Environment and Climate Change Committee on November 12 included local board input, as well as presentations from the public and environmental groups.

The Committee’s final resolution confirmed the need to minimise glyphosate use to ensure public health and safety, as well as prioritising non-agrichemical methods.

This meant opposing the recommendations of staff that appeared to favour general use of glyphosate (HM October 1), arguing that it was cheaper.

At the meeting, Cr Wayne Walker presented figures from specialist contractors showing that the costs of thermal methods (hot water, hot foam or hot steam) can fit within budget.

Both Cr Walker and Cr John Watson have been seeking this outcome since Rodney District Council days, pushing back against what they see as an agenda to continue glyphosate use.

Responsibility and funding for the work is a bit convoluted but basically Council’s Community Facilities department does the work and bills Auckland Transport (AT), which is responsible for the road corridor.

Cr Watson says provided AT sticks to its current budget, thermal methods could be introduced at the request of local boards, without any need for the board to reach into its own funds.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board deputy chair Victoria Short presented as part of a northern board delegation determined to retain a pathway for thermal technology.

She is excited by the fact that the local board now has the opportunity to pursue chemical free weed control for the Coast.

“From here, it might mean we take a collaborative approach north of the bridge with other local boards,” she says. “It was so much better than the suggestion of a blanket cover of glyphosate over the whole of Auckland.”

However, it is no quick fix. Council will now work with local boards to agree a funding mechanism and a transition to new methods by March, 2022.

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