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Councillor Draeyk van der Horn calls for immediate ban on 'poison' glyphosate weed killer used by Moray Council

By Garry McCartney

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Cllr van der Horn wants glyphosate banned.
Cllr van der Horn wants glyphosate banned.

A LOCAL Moray councillor has vowed to carry on fighting to have “cancer causing” weed killer completely phased out.

The local authority’s use of Roundup glyphosate was first raised with Draeyk van der Horn (Forres, Green) while he was campaigning for the local elections in 2022 - he promised then he would do what he could to reduce its use.

He said: “When I first asked how much Moray Council used in 2022, no one had an answer but a report finally delivered in February 2023 confirmed the scale; nearly 2000 litres at a cost of £105,000 per year.”

He secured agreement to a report on a pathway to phasing out use by 2025 but had to prompt again with a written question last year.

“I asked for a total ban in play and sports areas, in areas of high pedestrian activity and leisure spaces,” he said.

“This was not accepted and the committee decided to delay more action until November to see if the regulatory landscape alters.”

He added: “Courts in the USA are awarding damages to citizens who have claimed the chemical has caused them to develop cancer.

“Local authorities should consider civil claims due to exposure to glyphosate-based products here.

“It’s prudent to curtail use, away from high footfall areas including public parks. Curtailment will also improve biodiversity.”

Rinaldo Coluccia’s eight-year-old German Shepherd Honey had to be put to sleep after ingesting glyphosate on 'the walkies'.
Rinaldo Coluccia’s eight-year-old German Shepherd Honey had to be put to sleep after ingesting glyphosate on 'the walkies'.

Last year, Bogton resident Rinaldo Coluccia won the cost of his medical bills from Moray Council following the death of his dogs after they ingested glyphosate-treated grass near Forres Waste Water Treatment Works.

Cllr van der Horn pointed out that the Association for Public Service Excellence - which advises local authorities - notes reports linking glyphosate as being likely to cause cancer.

He said: “The GMB trade union has also called for a UK-wide ban since 2018. It considers glyphosate ‘a severe health risk to workers’. The union said it can ‘cause discomfort if it is breathed in’, exposure to the eyes ‘can result in conjunctivitis’ and if swallowed ‘it may cause corrosion of the throat and can lead to kidney or liver failure’.

“I am highly concerned that it is leaking into our waterways, our food and impacting our health. We need to ban it and treat it for the poison it is.”

A Moray Council spokesperson confirmed glyphosate use has reduced by almost 50 per cent since February 2023 when a decision was taken not to spray in some areas within open spaces, which includes the areas around tree bases, benches, signs, and play areas with grass matting and rubber crumb surfacing.

She said: “Trials of alternative approaches being undertaken by others will continue to be monitored, along with the future licensed use of glyphosate, which is legally-approved for use in Scotland, England and Wales until December 2025 and is approved as safe to use by the national regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.”

A decision was agreed to Cllr van der Horn’s proposal during the local authority’s 2024 budget discussions to further reduce the use of glyphosate-based weed killer, providing an £8000 saving, and with an agreement to work towards phasing out the use of all glyphosate products by the end of 2025.

However, he is concerned with any decision to delay action, particularly as a report in December from Environmental Standards Scotland highlighted a failure in leadership on climate change and biodiversity loss. He adds that it is also important that everyone stops using glyphosate for our own wellbeing and for the planet.

He finished: “Roundup is not just for sale as a product in shops, it is pre-sprayed on many foods, plants and flowers, as well as being used extensively in agriculture, to not just kill weeds but to dry grain. This is at huge cost to our health and needs to stop.

“Interestingly, the very country that headquarters Bayer and produces Roundup has banned its use in their own country. Why are we allowing it here when it’s deemed a poison there?”

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