17/06/2024

DoI Questioned Over Potential Use Of Weedkiller On Roadside Verges

The Alliance Party has questioned the Department of Infrastructure (DoI) over their use of weedkiller spray on verges in South Down.

South Down Alliance MLA, Andrew McMurray, said that he has been contacted by several constituents over concerns of verges being scarred brown.

Mr McMurray said: "The working assumption is that this is as a result of the Department of Infrastructure using weedkiller to keep growth down on the verges of our roadsides.

"The extent of roadside that has been treated this way is very extensive and to a much greater extent than has ever been seen in recent years. Indeed, some areas which had been cultivated as areas of wildflowers have effectively been destroyed.
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"The concern is that some of the weedkiller products are based on a particular chemical which has serious ecological and biodiversity impacts. Pollinators are incredibly important to the natural cycle and the use of certain weedkillers can lead to their declining numbers. There is also the concern that these chemicals then run into the watercourses through the drains and gullies which in turn has a knock-on effect on the aquatic life in these habitats.

"At this stage, I want to establish what has been used and to what extent it has been used. The Department for Infrastructure has in the recent past supported the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan. Part of this support was a commitment to exploring the use of alternatives to pesticides on the road networks. The Department of Infrastructure has in the past taken positive actions, such as 'No Mow May' to help aid biodiversity – and this is to be commended. If, as it seems likely, that herbicides have been used in this manner in such an excessive way, then this is regrettable and should be questioned."

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