Deputy David De Lisle is to take a proposal to the States to ban the use of glyphosate – a controversial herbicide present in a range of over-the-counter weedkillers.
The previous States’ Assembly rejected a similar proposal two-and-a-half years ago. But Deputy De Lisle is now preparing a second requête in the hope of capitalising on increasing concerns about environmental damage.
The President of the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure, Deputy Lindsay de Sausmarez, said she wants to see a decline in the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. But she warned that “a hasty ban on glyphosate” alone could “inadvertently cause an overall increase in the use of chemicals with different and potentially worse risk profiles”.
Express recently reported that 250million litres of water from the Vale Pond catchment area is now unusable because it is contaminated with dangerous chemicals. Guernsey Water has highlighted a particular problem with chemicals used to kill weeds in gardens and on paths and patios which also ends up being washed into the island’s water catchment area.
Pictured: Increasing use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides has left 250million litres of water unusable in the Vale Pond catchment area.
Deputy De Lisle, pictured top left, acknowledged that “there are many other” chemicals in routine use which damage the environment but said he would press ahead with a requête focused on glyphosate because the island “needs to make a start” on addressing the problem.
“I will continue to state the obvious and that is – simply put – we as islanders cannot allow volatile toxic chemicals to be applied in and around the island,” said Deputy De Lisle.
“We will pay dearly with our lives. Please think of your children and the next generation.”
Deputy De Lisle pointed to an increase of 65% in the level of pesticides found in streams across the island between 2019 and 2021 and said “this will and does end up in our drinking water”.
Deputy de Sausmarez, pictured top right, said she would welcome discussions with Deputy De Lisle about current and future efforts to tackle the problem.
Pictured: Glyphosate is among harmful pesticides and herbicides routinely sold over the counter in popular weedkiller products.
“I’d be interested to learn more about what Deputy De Lisle intends to bring in a requête, as he hasn’t discussed it yet with me or any relevant officers, as far as I’m aware,” she said.
“I assume he will be keen to find out what work has taken place to reduce the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides on our land and support us in that aim.
“As the debate in 2019 illustrated, while the problem is easy to point a finger at, the solutions are very much more complex.
“That’s why we’re collaborating with the Pollinator Project to better understand the real-world impact of pesticides [and other chemicals] on our environment locally and to investigate the viability of alternatives and practical measures to reduce the use of chemical inputs in the round.”
Deputy De Sausmarez pointed to various public sector initiatives to reduce the use of herbicides, pesticides and fungicides which are supported by her Committee, including:
Pictured: Deputies Rob Prow (left) and Lester Queripel signed Deputy David De Lisle's requête in 2019 and remain in favour of legally phasing out the use of glyphosate.
There are four States' members who signed Deputy De Lisle's defeated requête in 2019 and remain in the States' Assembly today: Deputies Rob Prow, Lester Queripel, Andrea Dudley-Owen and John Gollop.
Deputy Prow told Express that he "remains committed to the aims" of the 2019 requête.
"Safer alternatives are available and we need to draw a line under the use of glyphosate," said Deputy Prow. "I shall remain in close contact with Deputy De Lisle and the other Deputies who also were part of the petition."
Deputy Queripel told Express that he "would have no hesitation whatsoever in signing another requête" along the same lines as in 2019.
Pictured: Deputy David De Lisle's first attempt to ban glyphosate - through a requête submitted in 2019 - was heavily defeated in the States' Assembly.
"I am shocked and extremely disappointed in such an irresponsible approach being adopted by people here in the island who continue to use pesticides," said Deputy Queripel.
"Gardeners and garden centres need to take much more responsibility and seek out alternatives.
"I am also extremely disappointed that the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has not been a lot more proactive in seeking to reduce the amount used."
The Committee is working closely with the Pollinator Project on its efforts to discourage the use of harmful chemicals in controlling unwanted vegetation and on an audit of pesticide use and an analysis of its impact on the environment.
Pictured: Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen was another signatory of the 2019 requête who remains supportive of its aims - and she is critical of what she sees as a lack of meaningful action since that debate.
But Deputy Dudley-Owen believes that more could be done to reduce the use of harmful chemicals even without legislation banning them.
"It is disappointing that some easy wins, which could be won working with retailers, consumers and environmental charities, such as bringing in a voluntary moratorium on herbicides and pesticides, haven’t been vigorously pursued despite knowing the increasing risk to our local biodiversity and water quality," said Deputy Dudley-Owen.
She said that she also "remains supportive of any requête seeking to achieve this".
"I believe that, as an island, we should be positioning ourselves as a 'green' space," she said.
"We are very keen to invest in green finance, but have been very slow to be ambitious and brave in trailblazing clean initiatives which could see a marked reduction or even disappearance in the use of pollutants and toxins which damage our environment.
"Action of this type shows that we are serious about helping to save the planet - not just about making money from saving it."
Deputy De Lisle did not indicate a timeline for submitting his requête, but if it is submitted after 6 May it is highly unlikely to be debated before the middle of July at the earliest.
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