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Public and local authorities urged not to use harmful herbicides and weed-killers

The Irish Wildlife Trust (IWT) is urging local authorities and members of the public to avoid the use of harmful weed-killers and herbicides, particularly on Irish roadsides this summer.

According to the IWT, the casual use of noxious chemicals in public areas seems to be commonplace across the Irish countryside and leaves unsightly dead vegetation as well as harming important habitats for wild flowers and pollinating insects.

In fact, the use of chemical sprays is implicated as one of the main drivers in the extinction of pollinators, such as bees.

According to the all-Ireland Pollinator Plan, published by the National Biodiversity Data Centre, half of Ireland’s bee species have undergone ‘substantial declines’ since 1980 while a third of species are now threatened with extinction.

Figures from the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine shows that sales of pesticides and herbicides has steadily increased in recent years; up to 3,121t of active ingredient in 2015 (an increase of 7{b28040870e2dde01f25bc5b483275391226143b34751c4bb8f1feeecaec925a1} on 2013 alone).

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) underlined the issue of pesticide residues in water courses and drinking water supplies. According to the IWT, the EPA has said that this is an issue which “has emerged as a significant water quality issue in 2015”.

Their data showed that 61 drinking water supplies failed the concentration limits in 2015, a startling jump from 28 only a year earlier.

The IWT would like to see tighter regulation on the use of herbicides and pesticides which would prohibit ‘over the counter’ sales.

Pádraic Fogarty, IWT Campaigns Officer, says “Hedgerows and roadside verges are among the few remaining habitats left in Ireland for wildlife; it is heart-breaking to see so many of them sprayed with chemicals every summer – frequently for little apparent reason.”

The trust acknowledges that most chemical spraying is for agricultural purposes, but states that unregulated spraying for garden and public landscaping everyday use is a serious blight on otherwise pretty roadsides.

Herbicides are vital in the fight against alien invasive plant species, such as Japanese Knotweed or Rhododendron and, because of this, the IWT is opposed to a blanket ban.

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