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Cambridge City Council

Reduced use of herbicides

Since 2019 we have restricted our use of herbicides in the parks and open spaces that we manage. We have only used specific herbicides in special circumstances where alternatives are not available, such as to control the invasive Japanese knotweed.

We made this change in response to the Council’s declaration of a biodiversity emergency. The declaration included a commitment to reduce the use of herbicides on roads, and to find viable and effective alternatives.

This spring we will:

  • continue not using herbicides on the city’s parks and open spaces.
  • run a trial using no herbicides in all public areas, including streets and council housing estates, in Arbury and Newnham.
  • set up a volunteer scheme in which residents can ‘adopt’ their street and, among other things, treat weeds without using herbicide.
  • continue to use herbicides on streets elsewhere in the city, with the aim of further reducing its use in 2023.

Herbicide-free public areas trial

We are going to try controlling weeds in all public areas in Arbury and Newnham without using any herbicides.

Both areas have a variety of residential terraced streets and estates with communal garden areas. If the trial is successful, we hope to extend it across Cambridge.

You can expect to see more vegetation growing along kerbs and on areas of hard standing in the trial areas.

Strawberry plant before and after herbicide use

We will monitor growth and respond to locations where there is a potential of risk to public health and safety or damage to road, pavement or other ‘hard’ surfaces.

We are running this trial in partnership with Pesticide Free Cambridge.

‘Happy Bee Streets’ scheme

The Happy Bee Streets scheme is a way for you to improve biodiversity in your street through community weeding.

The council will support groups of residents with tools and advice to manage their pavements in ways that better support wildlife and public health. In return, their street will be taken out of the herbicide spraying schedule.

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