Reduced chemical street weeding trials

Closes 15 Mar 2024

Opened 10 Jan 2024

Overview

As part of our response to the climate emergency, Richmond Council is committed to reducing our environmental impact and ensuring our borough is a place that is safe and healthy for people to live and work in.

Like other councils, Richmond Council has historically used a weed killer containing a chemical herbicide called glyphosate to control street plant growth, but has reduced the quantity in recent years, including no longer spraying around the base of street trees.

You can read more about glyphosphate via the Related Links at the bottom of this page. 

Residents have raised concerns about the use of glyphosate on public streets and asked us to consider alternative methods of controlling wild street plants. We have listened to your concerns and, in April 2023, committed to taking action. This has led to the development of three trials that will be run in select areas of St Margarets and North Twickenham.

We want to test different approaches to removing problematic street weeds - such as those likely to damage the pavement surface, serve as trip hazards or affect street drainage - while reducing or eliminating the use of glyphosate. This is to protect residents and their pets but also to safeguard bees and other wildlife essential to our environment. Wild plants play a valuable role in supporting our wellbeing and the biodiversity of wildlife in the borough.

The three approaches we will be trialling are:

  1. A wholly manual approach to weeding: This will include increased manual removal for pavements and the use of mechanical wire brushes for kerb channels. This also includes the opportunity for residents who live in this trial area to get involved in a Community Weeding Scheme, which has been successful in other London boroughs, helping to identify and remove problematic wild plants on their roads. 
  2. Acetic acid (vinegar) removal system: This trial will simply replace the annual glyphosate sprays with acetic acid sprays directly on visible weeds.
  3. A 50% reduction in glyphosate (against the current use): This trial will involve a 50% reduction in frequency of spraying glyphosate, from three times annually to a mix of once or twice for different roads.

These trials will last for one growing season, and the change in operations will begin from March 2024.

You can find out more about the trials, including a map of the area and lists of exact streets where each approach will be trialled, at richmond.gov.uk/street_weeding_trials.

We hope that local residents will be interested in helping us find the right balance between keeping our streets clean, safe and accessible, while also creating more spaces for nature to flourish.

Have your say

If you live in one of the trial areas, we want to hear your thoughts on current weed control measures and effectiveness. Please give us your feedback on the trial plans by clicking the Online Survey link below. If you need any help completing the survey or if you need a paper copy or a different format, please call 020 8871 8506 or email weedingtrialslbr@richmond.gov.uk

What happens next?

We are keen to hear your views and invite you to share your feedback throughout the trial period. Visit richmond.gov.uk/street_weeding_trials to subscribe to email updates. The Council’s Environment, Sustainability, Culture and Sports Committee will make a decision about the way forward once the trials have been completed at the end of 2024.

Give Us Your Views

Areas

  • All Areas

Audiences

  • Residents

Interests

  • Richmond Borough