DUDLEY Council is to continue using a controversial weedkiller which may cause cancer after rejecting plans to reduce its use by switching to alternatives.

There have been growing calls on councils across the UK to cut the use of glyphosate, which has been linked to cancer in a series of US law suits as well as being identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a probable human carcinogen.

Successful trials using glyphosate-free Katoun Gold and Chikara and herbicide-free Foamstream, plus manual weed clearing with hedge cutters and strimmers, took place last year in four areas of the borough – on the Gig Mill estate in Norton, Stourbridge; Hurst Green in Halesowen; The Straits in Lower Gornal, and on Brierley Hill’s Hawbush estate.

Following this members of the council’s climate change and environment scrutiny committee were asked to look at reducing the use of glyphosate to control the weeds.

The committee, which met last month, was told the trials showed Katoun Gold, which causes weeds to dehydrate, and Chikara, which works to control germinating weeds on natural surfaces, were highly effective in clearing weeds from grass edges and shrub beds.

And a report to the committee said the council could reduce its use of glyphosate by 37 per cent by adopting the use of the two pesticides.

The committee, however, rejected plans to scale back its use of glyphosate, which kills most plants, and the council has confirmed it will continue to use the chemical weedkiller as it has done.

Stourbridge News: A flower bed in Norton believed to have been sprayed with glyphosate A flower bed in Norton believed to have been sprayed with glyphosate (Image: Public)

Councillor Shaz Saleem, Dudley Council’s cabinet member for highways and public realm, said: “The use of glyphosate to control the growth of weeds has been a source of debate in the borough over the past couple of years.

“As a result, officers presented a report to the climate change and environment scrutiny committee last month detailing possible alternatives to its use with regard to grass edges and flower beds.

“Those recommendations were rejected by the committee.

“As a result of this decision we will be continuing to use glyphosate for the time being, as we have been doing.

“Our team are trained in how to use it and I must stress it has also been approved for use by the government. It has been in use in the UK for nearly 50 years.

“The committee has asked us to look at the possibility of using manual labour to remove weeds rather than weedkillers, and we will be reviewing this in due course.”

The report presented to the committee said there were no difficulties applying Katoun Gold and Chikara, with effects seen in a couple of hours.

Foamstream was also effective, with results quickly evident, but the report said using the necessary diesel/petrol powered machine was not practical on main roads or in areas with many parked cars.

It said: “Considerable time ends up being lost with needing to refill the machine with water. Two operatives are required to drive and operate the machine, with the treatment taking longer to apply than a conventional spray.”

The report indicated use of the alternative weedkillers would have cost the council around £37,000 extra per year on top of the £330,000 it already spends on weed control.