Spraying Decision Dismays
By Caroline Brown
A Marton resident says she is disappointed with the council’s decision to continue using a chemical-based herbicide for weed control.
Pam Vernon claims the council has side-stepped health concerns about the main active ingredient of Roundup – glyphosate – and instead focused on cost.
The Rangitikei District Council voted on March 26 to maintain existing methods of weed control and to formally establish no-spray lists. Residents choosing to be on the no-spray list would be responsible for the upkeep of the land. The council contracts the spraying of urban areas to Fulton Hogan.
The council requested a report on alternative methods to chemical spraying for weeds after Vernon raised her concerns around the safety of current methods in a presentation at the end of last year.
Non-chemical sprays, pastes, gas burning and hot water treatment were investigated in the report as alternative options for the treatment of weeds. The council report indicated that cost was a prohibitive factor to many alternative methods.
At the meeting Cr Cath Ash questioned the report’s indication that hot water treatments were 15 times more expensive than herbicide and suggested the council contact some providers for quotes. Ash said the council had an obligation to consider alternative methods to chemical spraying in light of research by the University of Canterbury into the risks of glyphosate and the World Health Organisation suggesting glyphosate was a potential carcinogen.
Vernon said she also had issue with the report’s conclusion on the cost of hot water treatment. She said she had contacted a provider and was told that while at the moment it would be about 10 to 15 per cent more expensive by the end of this year it would be cost comparable.
Vernon said she decided to make a presentation to the council last year after ongoing issues with spraying around her property. She said it was good to finally have a formal no-spray register, however she did not think it went far enough.
“I believe the council are not really interested in finding another option.”
Mayor Andy Watson was not available for comment but in a statement endorsed the council’s decision based on the commissioned report.