Call for ban on use of weedkillers in Lochaber play parks

DANGEROUS WEEDKILLER 13/5/19 Councillor Niall MacLean demonstrates the protective clothing which should be worn by those spraying the weddkiller. Picture Iain Ferguson,

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A councillor says he found what he believes to be weedkiller residue on play equipment in a children’s play park at Ballachulish and expects it can be found in other play parks in Lochaber.

Fort William and Ardnamurchan councillor Niall McLean now wants to see a ban on the use of all glyphosate-based herbicides in such areas. He says its use should be restricted to carefully regulated specific instances, such as in forestry operations or the management of invasive plant species, and only then after each instance is risk assessed.

‘I called for a ban last year but was unsuccessful and only got the promise of a review. But nothing’s happened since and I am now frequently finding play park equipment covered in this stuff when these areas get sprayed for weed control,’ Mr McLean told the Lochaber Times.

‘There is always residue left and you will find the same problem across Highland region.’

At last week’s full council meeting, Mr McLean held up photographs showing dead grass where weedkiller has been used in children’s play parks and asked how children were expected to use the equipment without getting glyphosate on their skin.

Councillor Niall McLean at Claggan play park in Fort William this week with what he claims is weedkiller 'burn' clearly visible on surrounding grass. Picture Iain Ferguson, NO F20 Dangerous weedkiller 03
Councillor Niall McLean at Claggan play park in Fort William this week with what he claims is weedkiller ‘burn’ clearly visible on surrounding grass. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,
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And he told the Lochaber Times: ‘According to the data sheets supplied with such herbicides, you are supposed to wear full personal protective equipment. There has to be no contact with the skin and if you ingest it you have to seek medical advice.

‘The data sheets say these glyphosate weedkillers have a half life of 96 days which means 96 days after it is sprayed there is still residue left at half the concentration of the original.

‘But in this warm weather we have children dressed in shorts, t-shirts and open sandals using play parks and they will be coming into contact with this stuff.

‘Or they will get it on their shoes then tramp it across the carpets at home and what happens if there’s then a toddler crawling about on the same carpet?

‘I have also received letters of concern from medical doctors in Lochaber at the way these weed killer chemicals are used.

‘It’s just not acceptable. This stuff can affect fish stocks so you’ve not to use it near water courses. It can also kill marine life.

‘We need to think about what we’re doing here using glyphosate-based weedkillers. Where are they being used, when and why?’

Mr McLean has asked Highland Council for the cost of its weedkiller operations so that he can compare it against cuts in the council’s budget for additional support needs staff in schools.

‘There’s also the impact on biodiversity from such toxic substances. It’s killing dandelions and other wildflowers which means it is affecting bees and butterflies and other insect life.

‘Spraying this stuff in public spaces is just craziness. That is why I am pushing for a complete ban and will be taking this issue up at government level.’



Councillor Niall McLean demonstrates the protective clothing which is recommended for wearing while spraying weedkiller at Claggan play park in Fort William this week. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

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