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Agenda Item No 4

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment): 8 March, 2016

 

Report of the Director of Environment and Housing

 

Integrated Weed / Pest Control

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. The purpose of this report is to provide information on the Council's current policies and procedures in relation to weed and pest control within Visible Services.

Recommendation

1.       That the contents of the report be noted.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. To note the current work practices adopted by Visible Services in relation to weed and pest control.

Background

  1. Both the Council's Parks and Highways services operate integrated weed and pest control systems. This includes the monitoring developments of biological control methods becoming available in the market place, the extensive use of cultural controls (reducing the opportunity for weeds to establish by adopting good horticultural practices), the use of mechanical and physical controls, and the of use chemical controls (pesticides / weed killers).
  2. The current and future objectives of pesticide use for the Council's Parks and Highways services are to stop the use of pesticide wherever possible, to minimise / reduce use of pesticide, to use alternative methods, wherever possible, and to continually assess methods to ensure best practise is being adopted.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The Council's Parks and Ground Maintenance service presently use pesticides to a minimum but certain situations do arise where pesticide use is the most appropriate option for weed control. Examples include where a fungal disease within fine turf requires pesticide use to control the disease or due to the financial implications of managing a specific weed within a budget (e.g. pesticide spraying of Japanese Knotweed is currently the most financially effective way of controlling this invasive weed). The Parks and Ground Maintenance service also continually aims for best practice by attending briefing sessions run by "The Amenity Forum" which is the leading organisation in the UK amenity sector for promoting safe and environmentally friendly use of pesticides. When spraying a hard surface Dakar Pro (an approved pesticide) is used by the Highways Services contractor. For shrub bed areas that currently do not receive high levels of mechanical control (due to budgetary constraints) the Parks and Grounds Maintenance service are trialling the use of the pesticide Chikara which controls weeds for up to 5 months and has a residual action. Its ability to be applied very early in the season means treatment can take place at times of low footfall in parks, and also frees up manpower in the busy summer period. The residual action also means the need for only 1 or 2 applications per year. It has a reduced risk to wildlife as it presents a negligible risk to birds, mammals, fish, aquatic invertebrates and bees and has a very low dose rate of only 37.5 grams of active ingredient per hectare. This compares to around 1.8-2kg of active ingredient per hectare for Glyphosate.
  2. The Council's Highway Maintenance Department currently uses a qualified Weed Control Contractor to carry out weed control on the adopted highway. The Weed Control Contractor uses a "Weed IT" computer controlled application system, specifically designed for use on footpaths and other hard surface areas. The system consists of a shrouded spraying head mounted on the front of a purpose built articulated carrier vehicle. Within the shrouded head are sensor units and spray nozzles. The sensor units detect the presence of weeds which activate the appropriate spray nozzles to apply accurately the correct amount of pesticide to only the weeds and their immediate surroundings. This provides very high levels of weed control with greatly reduced herbicide usage, all with greater safety for the operator and the public alike. The benefits of the system are that only the weeds are targeted, thereby saving the amount of chemical used by some 60 to 80%, reducing the impact on the environment. Spraying can take place in windy conditions as the spray canopy reduces exposure to the chemical. The pesticide used is Dakar Pro which is a clean label, water soluble, glyphosate granule formulation which is dust free. The granules contain a tackifier which helps bond the pesticide to the leaf and is rain-fast within an hour, thereby reducing the opportunity for run-off contamination. This product is widely accepted as being the safest herbicide currently on the market.
  3. Both sections believe the current approach to weed and pest control is effective, and sustainable causing minimum interference to the immediate eco systems. There is however an acknowledgement that cost is a factor in the present working practises.
  4. At present there are no plans to change the current operating procedures but both departments will continually monitor changes in legislation, biological control advances and will modify their methods accordingly.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The services provided in relation to weed and pest control are currently funded from within the Highways and Parks and Ground Maintenance revenue budgets. Any significant changes to the Council's approach to weed and pest control within Visible Services are likely to have a financial implication but the extent of this would depend on any new approach taken.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The provision of quality parks and grounds maintenance services is highly valued by the majority of residents. The parks and Highways sections are also very aware of sustainability and climate change issues. In relation to the use of pesticides.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The Council presently complies with all legal requirements in relation to weed and pest control

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications associated with this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunity implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. In the context of weed and pest control The Corporate Priority and service aim is "To achieve a quality of the environment through the promotion and use of sustainable practices and by making the best use of current and future resources".

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The issues arising in this report are Vale-wide and not Ward specific and, therefore, no Ward Member consultation has taken place.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Dave Knevett - Operational Manager - Leisure Services

Mike Clogg Operational Manager Highways and Engineering

Officers Consulted

Accountant

Legal Services - Committee Reports

Head of Visible Services and Transport

Parks and Open Spaces Officer

Routine Maintenance and Street lighting Manager

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing

 

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