Our approach to weeding
Camden, in its role as land manger, has a legal obligation to:
- maintain the functionality, safety and look of the pavements and hard surfaces (such as our highways, roads, cobbled streets, and paved areas)
- prevent the spread of invasive weeds (e.g. Japanese Knotweed) from our land
If left unmanaged, weed networks can break up pavement surfaces (potentially tripping up pedestrians), trap litter and crowd out local plant life.
Our contractors use a variety of approaches to weeding on our streets, housing estates, parks and open spaces. Regular street sweeping; the focussed use of chemicals; and hand weeding all play a part, and are timed to coincide with expected weed growth.
Their operatives all receive the training and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) they need to do the job safely.
The use of ‘weed killer’ is minimal and targeted in response to specific weed growth.
We do not 'broadcast spray' or use chemicals for the control of weeds (except Japanese Knotweed) in tree pits, flower or shrub beds, on lawns, or in nature conservation areas within the borough.
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Reducing the use of herbicides
The active ingredient in the weed killer used by our contractors is a herbicide known as glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in many over the counter weed killers intended for home use, and is currently approved by the EU, Defra and the Health and Safety Executive.
Camden keeps these approvals under regular review and should the official advice change we will update our practices.
Advice on using weed killer safely at home
Our contractors are continually working to reduce the amount of glyphosate they use, and have shown year on year reductions.
Camden also has a pesticide reduction policy for its housing land, parks and open spaces. This aims to reduce the amount of chemicals used, and, where possible, includes the design of ‘hard surface’ (paving) repairs and improvements to reduce or remove the need for herbicides in the future. For example working with a local community to remove an underused area of hard surface and replace it with a green area.
This approach to hard surface herbicide application, on housing and parks hard standings, is in line with DEFRA’s Best Practice Notes for Integrated and Non-Chemical Amenity Hard Surface Weed Control.
Camden Council continuously works with its contractors to ensure all frontline staff using herbicides are professionally trained and use the correct level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
This includes gloves, overalls and eye protection when required. Our contractors also use a highly targeted ‘Weed-IT’ dispensing vehicle which requires minimal PPE to use safely.
Camden’s risk assessments and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health assessments for using glyphosate have been reviewed. This was completed as part of the suggested course of action listed by the GMB union in October 2018.
Our contractors do not use weed killer (glyphosate) for the control of weeds (except Japanese Knotweed) in flower beds, lawns, or nature conservation areas.
Find out more about planting flowers in tree pits
There are several treatment processes used to control Japanese Knotweed, which include injecting the plant directly with glyphosate - a process that is very effective and also targeted.
Using a herbicide like this is currently a recommended Environment Agency approach to invasive species, and glyphosate is included on the Health and Safety Executive approved chemical list.
Glyphosate is also a 'non residual herbicide' - which means that when used on Japanese Knotweed or carefully applied to hard surfaces weeds, it will not remain and harm other plants after the targeted species has died.
Camden works to maintain its parks and open spaces in a wildlife friendly way, that supports B-lines across London and the National Pollinator Strategy.
Home use of weed killers
All garden chemicals on sale in the United Kingdom are safe to use if you follow the manufacturers' instructions.
Most products have been issued with a MAPP (Ministerial Approved Pesticide Product) or HSE (Health and Safety Executive) number which can be found on the pack.
It is essential you read the statutory conditions of use and directions on the product label to check what situation each individual 'weed killer' (herbicide/pesticide) can be used.
Find out more information on approved chemicals and their safe use