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On Thursday 7 July our reception at Millmead House will be closed for staff training. If you need to contact us please use our online contact form. Our call centre will be operating with reduced staff. This is to ensure our phone lines are available to vulnerable residents. Normal service will resume on Friday 8 July. Thank you for your patience.

Making Guildford pesticide-free

Small green plant in the hands of a person

We are committed to reducing our chemical use to better protect our borough, Executive councillors agreed last night.  

The Executive also committed to working closely with Surrey County Council to develop an updated Chemical Policy and an Action Plan for further reduction of chemical use.

The proposal to adopt new chemical reduction measures in 2022 came after an online petition was launched in August last year by residents, part of Guildford Environmental Forum and national campaign group Pesticide Action Network. Following a debate at Full Council in December, the Council requested the Executive approve the proposals. 

The Lead Councillor for Environment, Cllr James Steel, said: "We are committed to protecting and enhancing the environment and biodiversity across our borough. We are caretakers of large areas of public space in Guildford. We look after those spaces, managing vegetation and protecting habitats. One of the ways we can protect our environment is by making sure we use as few chemicals as possible and work toward using no pesticides.  

"Over the last decade we have reduced our chemical use, including pesticides. The proposed chemical reduction measures are the next step. They detail how we will achieve a pesticide free Guildford. I thank our residents who started and signed the petition. This is what democracy looks like and I am proud to have played a small part in this."  

The measures include working towards stopping use of glyphosate (a herbicide used to remove certain plants and grasses) in playparks from 1 August 2022, and adopting a new chemical, pesticide and fertiliser policy and action plan by June 2022. The new policy and action plan will be a public commitment to: 

  • existing chemical reduction actions 
  • exploring alternatives 
  • communication 
  • educating site users and managing expectations 
  • working with partners and Pesticide Action Network to facilitate alternative approaches 

We will not use glyphosate, unless it's for a specified invasive or noxious weed and tree root removal on our parks, sports pitches, heritage and countryside areas. We are committed to finding and using alternative methods, such as mechanical removal or hot foam. However, if these methods are not practical and viable, we will use the minimum amount of chemical needed. Working with Surrey County Council, we will seek to reduce or eliminate glyphosate use in highway weed control.  

We are already working in partnership with Merrow Residents Association, Butterfly Conservation and Surrey Wildlife Trust to improve the conservation management of Merrow Golf Course, including reducing fertilisers and chemicals. The golf course is a major part of Merrow Downs' chalk grassland habitat.  


Published on: 25 February 2022