Pesticide-free Fishponds campaign gains momentum

September 01 2019
Pesticide-free Fishponds campaign gains momentum

PUBS, health centres, schools and a student lettings agency are supporting a campaign to  turn Fishponds into a Pesticide Free Zone.

The campaign, promoted by the Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance, centres on controversial weed killer glyphosate, which is being withdrawn from hundreds of European cities over its links to cancer.

The EU came close to banning glyphosate in 2017, and official advice is to “minimise use” in streets, playgrounds and other public spaces.

Fishponds is the first postcode in Bristol that the PSBA hopes to turn totally pesticide free, by spreading wildlife and family-friendly weeding techniques to private gardens as well as council-managed land.

Bristol City Council recently agreed to work with other major land managers towards phasing out glyphosate, after a petition signed by nearly 4,000 people was presented to the authority.

PSBA coordinator Harriet Williams, pictured above, said: “When you say air pollution, many people think of traffic fumes. But as we hear from our supporters, pesticide sprays pose a real risk to people, pets and wildlife too.

Pesticide Free Fishponds is about spreading the use of safer alternatives. The response here has been amazing – a number of local businesses are already avoiding glyphosate on health grounds. Our Pesticide Free Zone pledge is a simple way to take action on this important aspect of environmental health – and if Fishponds can do it, so of course can any other suburb of Bristol.”

Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy is supporting the campaign. She said: “It’s fantastic to see residents, businesses and campaigners coming together across Fishponds to make it the first pesticide free zone in Bristol. Taken together with the council’s pledge to stop using harmful pesticides and the recently announced Land Managers Task Force, which aims to collaborate with other major land managers across the city to eliminate the use of glyphosate, I’m positive we can banish these toxic chemicals from our streets and parks by the 2021 target.”

UWE Houses does not use glyphosate in gardens of the 40 student houses it manages in Fishponds. Andy Bending, its head gardener and founder of Bristol Organic Gardening, said: “I’ve been practising a chemical free approach to gardening for more than 20 years. We are a nation of garden lovers. Our gardens and green spaces should be places to relax and get away from the pollutates of the city.”

Kate Brooks, founder of the People’s University of Fishponds, said: “Finding out about glyphosate or ‘Roundup’ as it is called was really eye opening and worrying – we’re glad to support this campaign.”

Eimaer Hawes, landlord of The Star, one of several Fishponds pubs to have signed its beer garden up as a Pesticide Free Zone, said: “The Star has been developing a wildlife garden for the last few years. It makes no sense at all to be spraying pesticides that kill off wildlife.”

Households can also sign up their gardens via an online pledge at www.pesticidesafebristol.org. 

The campaign officially launched on August 11 and is open to anyone willing to use safer forms of weed and pest control.