You can opt out of glyphosate weed spraying on your street in 2020/21 and take on responsibility for weeding it yourselves.
We're phasing out glyphosate treatment for routine weeding of all Lambeth’s streets from October 2021. We're committed to addressing the climate emergency and our commitment to reduce our environmental impact and make sure Lambeth is a place people want to work, live and invest in is clearly set out in the Borough Plan. We listen to residents’ concerns and act where we can and where we know it will make a difference.
Some residents have raised concerns about the use of glyphosate to treat weeds in Lambeth. While we're certain that the amount we use and the way it's applied is safe, we know that there is controversy about the environmental and health impacts. Given our commitments to tackling the climate and ecological crisis, we want to act responsibly, and are therefore responding to these concerns by:
- phasing out glyphosate treatment for routine weeding of all Lambeth’s streets from October 2021
- reducing applications of glyphosate from three to two per year
- giving residents the option to remove their street from the schedule for glyphosate treatment in 2020 and 2021 if they commit to weeding the street themselves
We’re doing this because we believe in taking the right steps to protect the planet. Some residents have already been working with us to trial other methods of weeding in their streets and we encourage others to join in. We welcome all applications from residents who want to step up and support this new approach to reduce glyphosate weed treatments.
Do it online
The deadline to opt out was midnight on Sunday 9 August.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update
The priority at this time remains your wellbeing. If you need to contact your neighbours please do so via email, phone or other non-direct methods in line with government instructions to practise social distancing.
We'll continue to review and update our instructions in line with the latest government advice on social distancing when it comes to organising the weeding of your street.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Why we need to remove weeds
- 2. How has COVID-19 affected the phase out of glyphosate use?
- 3. Why we’re stopping using glyphosate
- 4. How you can control weeds
- 5. Becoming a Street Champion
- 6. Getting your neighbours involved
- 7. How we monitor your street’s weeding
- 8. What to do if your circumstances change
- 9. Contact the Street Champions Team
1. Why we need to remove weeds
The presence or absence of weeds is an important element of what we call local environmental quality. If a street has lots of weeds, it looks rundown and uncared for, and can attract environmental crime such as littering and fly-tipping. As if that’s not bad enough, if weeds are left to grow unchecked their roots can cause damage to pavements and garden walls.
Streets that are free from weeds, on the other hand, look cleaner, tidier, and more welcoming.
2. How has COVID-19 affected the phase out of glyphosate use?
In March 2020, we also offered residents the chance to opt their street out the 2020/21 weed spraying schedule provided they committed to weeding their street themselves. The original ask was for participants to do this until April 2021 when our new rubbish, recycling, and street cleaning contract was due to begin. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that we have had to delay the procurement work related to this service by 6 months. We'll therefore be unable to phase out glyphosate weed spraying until October 2021, when the new service is due to commence.
The response to the first phase of the opt out was positive and so we are re-opening applications ahead of the second spray scheduled for August 2020 to enable more streets and residents to participate. We'll also extend the opt out for those who signed up in the spring and are happy to continue weeding their streets until October 2021.
3. Why we’re stopping using glyphosate
Glyphosate is a herbicide, which means it’s poisonous to plants and is used to kill weeds. It’s commonly known by the brand name Roundup and has been used to control unwanted plants by councils, farmers and home gardeners for several decades.
We recognise that residents have concerns about the spraying of glyphosate, and its use runs counter to our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and impact on the environment. There are other ways of controlling weeds that don’t rely on chemicals, so we feel that stopping the use of glyphosate is the responsible thing to do.
Glyphosate is a relatively effective and inexpensive solution to keeping weeds under control. We need to maintain current standards while also ensuring that any future weed control measures represent good value for money. We'll use the next year to test a number of solutions which will help to design an effective weed control programme to start in 2021.
4. How you can control weeds
Residents of Oaks Avenue in Gipsy Hill started doing their own weeding last summer. They suggest waiting until after rain, so that the ground the weeds are growing in is softer, and then pulling them out by hand, trying to bring the roots out with them. Any accumulated soil should also be removed, reducing the likelihood of weeds being able to grow back. This method has a much lower rate of regrowth than spraying with glyphosate, which leaves weeds in place while they die off and doesn’t remove soil.
The most important time to weed will be after the initial growth spurt that occurs in the spring. If roots and accumulated soil are removed at that stage, you shouldn’t need to weed more than three times a year.
We’ll provide you with a garden waste bag for collecting weeds in. Once your bag is full, you can leave it on the pavement on your regular collection day next to your wheelie bins and it will be emptied and returned as part of your weekly garden waste service. Please ensure the bag is on the pavement by 6am - the evening before is fine.
If you live in a property that doesn’t have wheelie bins, for example on an estate, please let us know and we’ll make an alternative arrangement.
5. Becoming a Street Champion
We think that anyone who’s prepared to do something to improve their street deserves to be recognised. By becoming a Street Champion you’ll join a growing group of Lambeth residents who are committed to making their street a better place. You’ll have access to additional support and advice, and you’ll receive a handbook and quarterly newsletter. You’ll also be able to get in touch with other Street Champions around the borough to swap ideas and encouragement.
6. Getting your neighbours involved
The wellbeing of you and your neighbours remains the priority. We'll provide guidance to all participants on how to contact and weed with your neighbours while respecting the latest guidance on social distancing.
We can provide you with a letter that you can deliver to neighbours asking if they’d like to help out. Some roads have online networks on Facebook, WhatsApp or Next Door, so if your road has one of these it would be an ideal way to ask for support.
7. How we monitor your street’s weeding
The council needs to make sure standards are maintained, so we’ll carry out regular checks to make sure adequate weeding takes place - we’ll give you a couple of weeks’ notice beforehand. If we feel that weeds are at an unacceptable level, we’ll let you know and give you an opportunity to remove them. If the weeds remain after an agreed time period, your road will be put back on the glyphosate spraying schedule.
8. What to do if your circumstances change
Please let us know as soon as you can if you’re no longer able to take part for whatever reason. We can then either see whether one of your neighbours would like to take over, or put your street back onto the glyphosate spraying schedule.