A call for a temporary ban on herbicide spraying by Island Roads in Ventnor and the Undercliff is attracting growing support from nature lovers.
Island resident Steve Jones posted an appeal to a Facebook group over the weekend, asking others to write to the Isle of Wight council (IWC), Island Roads and the Isle of Wight Conservative MP, Robert Seely.
He’s concerned about herbicide spraying of roadsides and verges fatally affecting the Ventnor wall lizard, after finding more dead lizards, he says, just hours after Island Roads sprayed the area.
Alerted Island Roads and MP, but spraying continues
In the Isle of Wight Nature Group (a closed group so you will have to join it to read the responses) he stated:
“About ten days ago I found another dead wall lizard at the base of a wall with desiccated plants, hours after Island Roads had once again been along with their herbicide sprayers.
“In previous years I’ve found moribund (not quite dead, suggesting sub-lethal effects) wall lizards under similar circumstances. Several wall lizard populations have died out (e.g. at the Alpine/Gills Cliff junction) since spraying started.
“I’ve alerted Island Roads and the MP to the issue, but still the spraying continues.”
“Strong circumstantial evidence” wiping out wall lizards
Steve goes on to say,
“Toxicity of e.g. Roundup to reptiles is not routinely tested. Island Roads is spraying ‘blind’, but with strong circumstantial evidence I believe they’re wiping out wall lizards and, of course, the invertebrate-rich plant communities upon which they depend. And, of course, these same habitats are occupied by slow worms, common lizard (rare here), grass snake and, locally, adder.
“If sprays are toxic to robust wall lizards, they’re probably also toxic to smaller slow worms and common lizards, and juvenile snakes.”
Temporary ban on herbicide spraying
Steve finishes by saying,
“I’d like to see a moratorium on herbicide spraying on street walls in the Undercliff at the very least, if not Island-wide, pending toxicology tests.”
Appeal to MP, IWC and Island Roads
Steve is hoping that if others agree with him, they’ll write to the Isle of Wight council, Island Roads and Isle of Wight MP (email addresses at the bottom of article).
“When they started herbicide spraying (only 3-4 yrs ago) we had mature, low stature flowering perennials – just what you would expect on such dry stone walls/verges. These have been replaced by annuals of far less value, which they now have an excuse to spray perpetually, and these are less able to bind soil, causing it to wash out of the gaps.”
In August 2018, the Isle of Wight council said they would continue using glyphosate-based weedkillers for grounds maintenance, despite a landmark court case which linked the chemical to cancer.
Response from the IWC
OnTheWight has contacted the Isle of Wight council for a response to the appeal and asked a series of questions.
We’ll update once we hear back.
If you wish to follow Steve’s suggestion, contact details for the relevant people are:
- Cabinet member for highways – Cllr Ian Ward: [email protected]
- Cabinet member for environment and heritage – Cllr John Hobart: [email protected]
- Island Roads: [email protected]
- IW MP, Bob Seely here: [email protected]
Images: © Benjamin Tonner