What we want
Our goal is to end the routine use of pesticides in Bristol’s public spaces, in particular weed killers (herbicides) associated with serious health impacts. Glyphosate, the top-selling weed killer for urban use, was labelled a ‘probable carcinogen’ by the World Health Organisation in 2014, leading to calls to withdraw it from public sale and ban it from wheat processed into bread.
If we should not use these chemicals ourselves, why should our local authorities apply them to parts of the city where thousands of people live, work and play? The French, Belgian and Dutch governments are committed to phasing out urban pesticides in the near future. The UK has no such plans at national level, meaning that city councils need to take the lead in adopting pesticide-free policies across the large land banks that they control.
Copenhagen and Nantes, Bristol’s two immediate predecessors as European Green Capital, have already embraced pesticide-free policies, along with hundreds of other cities and towns worldwide including Toronto, Paris and Brussels. Their leadership shows it is possible to control weeds without chemicals and within budget.
Our vision is a city that protects public health through the use of non-chemical methods of weed control. This will be achieved through changes in the Council’s policy and practice, and through the voluntary commitments of schools, health settings, businesses and other land managers within Bristol, all of whom we invite to join our network of Pesticide-Free Zones.
Our policy asks of Bristol City Council are:
- Reduce urban pesticide use in all areas under its control
- Eliminate some of the most hazardous pesticides altogether (starting with glyphosate)
- Define a strict ‘last resort’ policy – whereby pesticide is applied where it is genuinely the ONLY option (for instance in the control of aggressive invasive species like Japanese knotweed)
- Adopt sustainable methods of pest control, using recognised organic techniques as standard
- Publish full annual data on pesticide use by the Council and its contractors
- Provide clear public notices about spraying in the case of ‘last resort’ use
- Ensure proper safety for employees and contractors using pesticides