Policy on the use of pesticides
The Parks and Open Spaces Service has been moving away from using chemicals wherever practical, replacing their use with cultural and manual methods. Pesticides are no longer used in Green Flag Park sites or play grounds, except where pesticides offer the only effective option such as in the treatment of some persistent weeds. The council no longer uses chemicals to control plant diseases (other than on fine turf areas) preferring to plant resistant species and improve its plant maintenance regimes.
In non-Green Flag sites, specialist trained contractors are employed to control weeds in selected situations. There is no blanket application of spray. Individual weeds are sprayed on their leaves with a contact herbicide that moves through the plant to kill it. This means that only areas with current growth are treated. This restricts applications to lightly trafficked paved areas. A maximum of three applications are made each year. In exceptional circumstances a residual herbicide (one that stays in the soil surface for several months) may be used to provide control in known problem areas, though the emphasis remains on the reduction of usage of this type of herbicide.
The borough occasionally has infestations of the Browntail moth. The caterpillars of this species of moth have fine hairs that can cause irritation or occasionally more serious reactions in humans. Where infestations are found, they are pruned out and the arisings disposed of; pesticides are no longer used to treat this problem.
Some pesticides are used on the council's four bowling greens to maintain the fine grass surface that is required for this sport, including fungicides to control turf diseases and lumbricides to reduce worm casts and prevent root damage by leather jacket larvae. In these locations our trained greenkeepers use their experience to ensure that treatments are kept to a minimum and are carried out in a safe and timely way.
Rats and other pests are monitored and outbreaks controlled only as and when necessary by the council's pest control service.