The Shire of Denmark could be forced to obtain landowner permission before spraying verges with glyphosate after the council considers a 600-signature petition at tonight’s meeting.
The petition was presented to the council in April, calling for an “opt-in” verge spraying policy and the use of steam-based weed control in public areas. The opt-in approach would force the Shire to obtain consent from landowners before spraying adjoining verges.
The Shire stopped using glyphosate-based products in Berridge Park, Kwoorabup Community Park and Norm Thornton Park in October, opting instead to trial organic herbicides at the public parks.
Glyphosate, often sold as Roundup, is one of Australia’s most commonly used chemicals for weed control.
In tonight’s council documents, Shire assets and sustainable development director David King highlighted growing global concerns over the health effects of glyphosate use.
“There have been a number of high-profile US court cases concerning litigations against chemical companies over the link to cancer through use of glyphosate use,” Mr King said. “A legal case has also been launched in Melbourne last month; this has prompted increased attention to glyphosate use in Australia which has generated mixed responses from potential plaintiffs and farmers that rely heavily on its use.
“To the officer’s knowledge at the time of writing this report, glyphosate is the only product currently used in regional councils to maintain large lengths of road verges.”
Since 2015, the Shire has used an “opt-out” process which allows residents to apply for an exemption from chemical verge spraying.
There are 96 properties on the No Spray Register or 3.5 per cent of the total verge length managed by the Shire.
Officers have recommended that councillors vote to stick with the existing opt-out policy because of the risks associated with significant amounts of road verges not being efficiently maintained.
Alternative methods would continue to be trialled in high-use public areas.
“There is no current proposal to move away from the use of glyphosate until a financially viable alternative is found and/or the use of glyphosate is clearly determined to be the cause of health implications,” Mr King said.