Weeds, bees and biodiversity - trialling alternatives to weed sprays

Published on 14th October 2020

Image of brush and rake

This year (2020) Cheltenham Borough Council has trialled reducing the amount of weed sprays (glyphosate herbicides) used across the town.

As part of its climate emergency work, the council recognises the importance of supporting biodiversity, and the need to save bees and pollinators which are affected by traditional weed control measures.

Cllr Chris Coleman, cabinet member for clean and green environment, says: “We are working to shift traditional perceptions that some weeds and wildflowers are unsightly and a sign of poor maintenance.

“TV presenters such as Jimmy Doherty have helped capture the public’s imagination and explain just how important bees and pollinators are, as well as encouraging people to plant their own wildflower patches at home or leave some weeds to help create a corridor for these insects to move around.

“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from residents saying how much they’ve enjoyed seeing wildflowers bloom in some grassed areas that have been left to grow longer this year.

“As a council, we need to do everything we can in our work to protect our environment for the future and we’d like to encourage residents to also think how they can help our bees and pollinators in their own gardens.

“Working with Ubico, we’ve used alternatives to weed spraying this summer, and trialled using electricity and mechanical weed rippers instead.

“However, with the exception of weed rippers, all have been less effective than we’d hoped, and using weed rippers has also proved to be labour intensive compared to spraying, at a time when our staff resources have been limited due to COVID-19.

“This work will continue over the next few months and, whilst some more persistent weeds may be left until early May when they can be treated again, we will be reviewing our options to achieve the best results possible within the constraints presented by the pandemic.

A programme of weed removal and other activities will be published on the council’s website in the next few weeks.


For media enquiries, contact communications, telephone 01242 264154, email communications@cheltenham.gov.uk