At a recent sitting of the Athlone Moate Municipal District, Green Party Councillor, Louise Heavin, received broad support for her motion to limit the use of glyphosate, the harmful weedkiller commonly known as Roundup by the local authority.
"There has been an action in the Westmeath Biodiversity Action plan since 2014 to limit the use of harmful chemicals on local authority owned and managed lands. We are now in a biodiversity emergency. One third of Ireland's 98 wild bee species is under threat of extinction. Glyphosate has been proven to be harmful to bees and wildlife. It's time to put our own agreed plan into action," the Green Party Councillor remarked.
The elected representative noted that glyphosate had cancer causing attributes and stated that she had received many concerned representations from memebers of the local public in this regard.
"The International Agency for Research in Cancer, the Cancer research arm of the World Health Organisation, stated that Glyphosate is probably carcinogenic, a cancer causing substance. These are facts we shouldn't ignore. I received many concerns from members of the public following the widespread spraying of pavements in the town whilst children were walking to school and people were outside having coffee. The contractor spraying the weedkiller was wearing a mask. We have to ask is it appropriate to spray such harmful chemicals in public areas. There are less harmful alternatives available such as vinegar solution, foam spray and manual shovel removal. Some Council's have already moved away from Glyphosate use such as Leitrim, Dublin and South Dublin County Council. It's time for Westmeath County Council to follow suit," Cllr. Heavin emphasised.
Cllr Aengus O'Rourke and Cllr John Dolan both supported the motion but raised concerns over the cost of alternatives. The spraying season is now over for the year and it was agreed that the Council will research the cost difference involved of using alternatives ahead of the next budget.
"I hope that we value in our own health and the health of our environment when discussing next year's budget," Cllr. Heavin continued.
She also proposed that the Council look at offsetting the costs by planting wildflowers on incidental grassed areas normally mowed. The proposed motion follows an online petition calling on the Council to stop using Glyphosate which has to date gained over a thousand signatures.