According to a member of the public and the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Cllr Lesley Whybrow (Green), Folkestone & Hythe District Council have allegedly sprayed the canal between Twiss Rd and Seabrook Point with herbicide.
In a Facebook post by the Shepway Green Party on the 7 May, they state, they questioned the council regarding a tree which had been felled. The council believe this was an act of vandalism, and seek information from anybody who might have seen anything.
In the comments below the post, a member of the public implies the council sprayed something on this part of the canal. Cllr Whybrow responds by saying:
I know. All very frustrating. I have been pushing for answers about the use of herbicide along there and just get told that it is safe. I haven’t been able to find out if the council’s ecologist is aware that chemicals are being used there. I am assuming not as if she has approved their use they could just tell me.
Now to enlighten Cllr Whybrow Cabinet Member for the Environment; who collects an annual allowance of approx £16,000 plus, for sitting on Cllr David Monk’s Cabinet, The Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 and Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986, as amended, set out the rules on using pesticides to control weeds growing in water or on land. ‘Pesticides’ includes herbicides as well as insecticides and fungicides. They all have information on the product labels to explain how and where they can be used. The product labels of aquatic herbicides explain that anyone who wants to use herbicides to control weeds in water (aquatic weeds) or on the banks or banksides next to a water body or a watercourse, should get the consent or agreement of the Environment Agency. This is to make sure that the proposed use of the herbicide could not damage or pollute the aquatic environment (including both surface water and groundwater).
The legislation is emphatic. If our Council want to spray a herbicide, such as Glyphosate, on the bankside of the canal between Twiss Rd and Seabrook Point they need agreement or consent from the Environment Agency [EA].
Now realising this, our public face sent an Environmental Information Request to the EA to see if Folkestone & Hythe District Council had received permission to use pesticides on the banks, or banksides of the Royal Military Canal. The council own the Royal Military Canal between Seabrook Point & West Hythe Dam but still need consent/agreement from the EA to spray pesticides.
The request was sent on the 13th March 2021 and asked:
Please provide the date and number of times the Environment Agency has given Folkestone & Hythe District Council consent to spray pesticides on the bank or banksides of the watercourse known as the Royal Miltary Canal for the period 2016/17 – to present. This is to include any site plan that shows the site to be sprayed and its surrounding area and why the Council believed the weeds needed to be controlled.
The EA responded on the 20th May, some two weeks after the comments made by the member of the public and Cllr Whybrow on the Shepway Green Party Facebook page.
The EAs response was as follows
I have looked at the local log of complex applications we have assessed since 2016, and even some into 2014 too. I cannot find anything particular to the Royal Military Canal or RMC as a quoted location. Folkestone and Hythe District Council have been searched separately and I could not find any agreements or consents to spray any pesticide in the time period stated.
Similarly, the National Permitting service who log the initial applications (and this includes simple applications) – which we previously did not see at local Area level – they also cannot find anything pertaining to the Royal Military Canal or RMC or Folkestone & Hythe District Council
The EA is saying the council did not receive any agreement or consent from them to allow the council – as legally necessary – to spray any pesticide.
The full ecologist correspondence requested by Cllr Whybrow via an Environmental Information Request, also makes no mention of spraying herbicides/pesticides near the canal.
So have pesticides being used? Have herbicides being sprayed?
Well the the answers are Yes. No. Yes. No.
Confused! Lets explain.
The first Yes.
Pesticides have been used in the form of ecoplugs on the trees stumps on the north bank of the Royal Military Canal.
The Council do not need the EAs consent or agreement to use ecoplugs, as it is NOT a spray.
Ecoplugs are a novel formulation of crystalline glyphosate encapsulated in a plastic plug. Because of their design, they present practically no risk of non target drift or operator contamination, and it is claimed that Ecoplugs can be used in all weathers at any time of year.
Now the first NO!
Have herbicides been used on or near the canal including the north bank?
No, according to the Environment Agency and the ecologist correspondence
This would appear that a member of the Shepway Green Party might be spreading misinformation once again.
And for the second YES. The Folkestone & Hythe District Council Royal Military Canal Management Plan 2016 – 2020 at page 36 it states:
5.4: Chemical use:
Before any spraying operation the relevant paper work is completed and held on file for future reference. The only chemical used on the canal is the herbicide Glysophate, mainly for invasive weeds such as Giant hogweed Heracleum mantegazzianum and Japanese knotweed Fallopia japonica. These notifiable weeds require EA consent to spray near the water course. Occasionally the path edges and steps will be sprayed in reach 2.
The Council make it clear they need EA consent to spray the herbicide Glyphosate. They also say they “will spray reach 2” between Scallons Bridge and Twiss Road, so not reach 3 which is between Twiss Rd and Seabrook Rd. But the EA has not given permission for anywhere on the Royal Military Canal to be sprayed, according to there response.
And for the final NO. The allegation by the member of the public and Cllr Whybrow the council have used and sprayed a herbicide on Reach 3 of the canal cannot be true according to the EA and the Ecologist as NO evidence exists that spraying of glyphosate or any other herbicide has taken place.
So once again, all the available evidence suggests once again a Shepway Green Party Cllr is spreading misinformation.
The Shepway Vox Team
The Velvet Voices of Dissent