THE Greens have reignited a campaign to end the council’s use of herbicide sprays in the Highlands, arguing it could affect people’s health.
Anne Thomas, secretary of the Highlands and Islands branch, said other local authorities were using non-chemical methods for weed control, like steam weeding – and Highland Council should follow suit.
Mrs Thomas, who is also a keen bee keeper, is concerned about the spraying of glyphosate, the key ingredient in the world’s bestselling weedkiller, Roundup.
Just last month the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency firmly defended its finding that the widely-used herbicide is "probably carcinogenic to humans" although several international agencies subsequently came to opposite conclusions. Monsanto, which makes Roundup, insists glyphosate is safe.
A petition by 1.3 million EU citizens last year calling for a ban was quashed when the EU voted to reauthorise the pesticide for use for another five years.
Council vice convener Allan Henderson said he understood the Green Party’s concerns – but insisted notes on the use of the product stated it was "dangerous to inhale but the minute it hits the ground it does its job" without damaging health.
Cllr Henderson said the council was open to new alternatives but Roundup was the most cost-effective way of killing weeds.
Last year, residents in Inverness complained on social media about the yellow streaks caused by weedkiller on grass verges and round trees and road signs.
A campaign to stop chemical herbicides being sprayed in public spaces in Highland was run by the Greens last year.
Mrs Thomas has again written to the council asking it to stop using Roundup.
It comes after other local authorities, including Hammersmith and Fulham, banned the use of glyphosate pesticides in favour of chemical-free hot foam and hot water.
Mrs Thomas said: "Roundup is being used everywhere in the Highlands, often in places where the grass didn’t need any attention and round the boles of tree, which are also plants. The last thing they need is herbicide.
"It’s upsetting having to tell my toddler granddaughter she cannot play on equipment as I can see it has been sprayed due to the yellowing grass all around it."
But Cllr Henderson said Roundup "gets to grips with the weeds".
He said: "I don’t blame them for their concern, obviously. But we do need to have good-quality material to be able to tackle the weeds and we make no apology for that. Our most recent notes on the material is that it is dangerous to inhale but the minute it hits the ground it does its job without damaging health. You would have to be drinking it."