Leaf it out.. Midlothian locals get their dander up over toxic weed killer

Residents concerned about the use of toxic weed killer in their community have come together to adopt public land and stop council workers spraying it.

By Marie Sharp
Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 7:00 am

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Danderhall and District Guerrilla Gardeners was set up after Midlothian Council reversed a decision to stop using controversial glyphosate weedkiller.

The group is now drawing up a map of green spaces it will take over maintenance of as it comes to an agreement with the local authority.

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A spokesperson for the group, which has nearly 100 volunteers helping clear weeds manually and is growing every week, said it was working with the council to become the first community to adopt its green spaces.

They said: “We don’t want this toxic weed killer sprayed in our community and are working with the local authority to ensure it is not used here.

“The support from the whole community has been overwhelming, with more people getting involved as word of mouth spreads

The group has launched its own Facebook page and local children have been leafleting thousands of homes in Danderhall and neighbouring communities urging support for a pesticide-free zone.

Leaf it out...environmental fears raised over toxic weed killer

Local businesses are also displaying posters in their windows backing the campaign.

Midlothian Council suspended the use of the weed killer, which has been at the centre of claims it has a devastating impact on wildlife including bumblebees and butterflies, two years ago.

A meeting last month, however, saw councillors vote to allow it to be reintroduced in restricted areas.

The Guerrilla Gardeners come in all ages

The meeting was told that the ban had been lifted during the Covid pandemic but it was claimed that council workers had gone on a “killing spree” when they were allowed to use it again, spraying wildflower beds and private gardens.

A report on the weed killer options suggested local communities could be allowed to adopt green spaces and maintain them themselves if they wanted to stop glyphosate being used in their streets.

And the Danderhall group has become the first to take up the proposal, holding talks with the local authority and working to meet the requirements to adopt the land.

It is currently drawing up a map of areas which it will adopt, which will be presented to the council, and residents are being urged to get in touch if they have areas they want to maintain themselves.

The group said: “We have identified paths and public areas which we are going out in teams to clear up and maintain but people may have small areas outside their own homes that they want to take on themselves and they can let us know if they want them added to the map.

“The council has agreed that the areas identified they will continue to cut the grass but will not spray weed killer.”

The group has been out carrying out weeding and clearing work on recent weeks and will be at Smithy Green Avenue this Sunday from 11am to 1pm if anyone wants to get involved or find out more.

A spokesman for Midlothian Council confirmed that the council was soon to finalise an agreement with Danderhall and District Guerrilla Gardeners, the first community group to adopt localised green spaces.

He added: “We’re ironing out various details, such as making sure we have a clear idea of exactly what services the guerrilla gardeners will offer and where, and our responsibilities in return.

“We are really pleased to be working with the community group and we’re looking forward to welcoming further similar requests in the near future.

“We’ll be putting details of how to apply on the council’s website at www.midlothian.gov.uk but, in the meantime, any groups interested can contact us by emailing [email protected]

The offer to let people adopt green spaces is for any community group interested in maintaining land themselves for any reason.

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