Southend-on-Sea Borough Council is proposing to set aside £120k in the annual budget as part of a pilot scheme to phase out the use of weedkiller and increase the number of trees in the borough.
The council currently uses a mixed approach to weed control, with both manual weed removal and chemical methods being used. However, the majority of control is undertaken by the use of glyphosate.
Glyphosate is a herbicide, which means it’s poisonous to plants and is used to kill weeds and has been used to control unwanted plants by councils, farmers and home gardeners for several decades.
Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: “The council is committed to creating a greener future and the use of glyphosate-based herbicides runs counter to the council’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and impact on the environment.
“Therefore, a range of alternative methods will be considered including manual removal, the application of mulch on shrub beds and hot water/foam used on hard surfaces in Children's play areas. There is a whole range of methods we can look at during the pilot to see which is the most effective.”
The council is also committed to planting 700 trees this season, along highways and in parks. This total includes capital funding for an additional 300 trees above and beyond the normal planting numbers, and trees donated by residents.
The planting programme will include 70 trees being planted along the central reservation between Belfairs Park and Priory Park as part of the Queens Canopy project a UK-wide tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee and a total of 5,500 shrubs to be planted on highway verges.
Southchurch Park East will also feature tree planting as part of the creation of a COVID-19 reflection garden.
The increased planting is part of the council’s Tree Policy, which commits to increasing the town’s tree canopy cover from 12% to 15%, which is an increase of over 1km2, a rise of 20% from the current 5.17km2, and the equivalent of 150 football pitches.
Cllr Mulroney added: “We are working hard to continue our tree canopy improvements. We all know how important trees and other plants are to our own lives by providing cleaner air and a more pleasant environment, but their benefits for fauna and wildlife habitats are also crucial.
“Trees and planting are something we can all get involved in and we want people to think about how they can plant trees in their own gardens and for businesses to consider planting on their own land, so that together we create a tree canopy that contributes to our goal of becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2030.”
The budget will be discussed at the cabinet meeting on Thursday 13 January 2022. To read the report in full, please visit our website.