Council won’t budge on concerns over herbicide spraying and death of lizards

Isle of Wight council say they’re satisfied use of herbicides by Island Roads is necessary, but those raising concerns say there’s “strong circumstantial evidence of direct harmful effects”

Ventnor wall lizard

Earlier in the week OnTheWight reported on the concerns raised over the possible connection of herbicide spraying at roadsides on the Isle of Wight and the death of wall lizards and other wildlife.

OnTheWight got in touch with the Isle of Wight council about the concerns and asked three simple questions.

  1. Will the IWC ask Island Roads to stop spraying?
  2. Will toxicity of herbicides used be tested?
  3. Will IWC seek expert advice following the discovery?

Isle of Wight Council “is satisfied”
In response, a council spokesperson said:

“The Isle of Wight Council is satisfied at the moment that the use of herbicides by Island Roads is necessary and proportional, and in line with what is agreed in the contract. The herbicide used is, and must continue to be, a herbicide approved for use in the UK in public places.

“This approval is given only following extensive testing at a national and international level. The Isle of Wight Council has no ability to conduct its own independent tests or investigations into the effects of such herbicides, but we are aware of and are monitoring the current debate and concern about herbicide use on the wider environment.

“If there is a change in legislation or code of practice then the Isle of Wight Council and its contractors will abide by those new requirements, including changing or stopping the use of herbicides if necessary.”

Jones: “Strong circumstantial evidence”
Steve Jones, who raised the concerns, responded,

“The toxicity of these chemicals to UK reptiles has not been tested, although research by international researchers have found them to adversely affect both reptiles and amphibians. I have strong circumstantial evidence of direct harmful effects, in the form of both several moribund, and one dead lizard, all found within millimetres of desiccated, recently sprayed vegetation at the bases of walls in Ventnor.

“I cannot of course prove that spraying harmed these reptiles. I can state, though, that killing the vegetation upon which Ventnor’s wall lizards, slow worms and common lizards depend will likely harm them too.”

Reiterate call to cease spraying
He went on to say,

“To say that destroying their habitat has no effect is, of course, wrong. I suggest that spraying as currently practiced in Ventnor/St Lawrence should cease pending confirmation that the chemical is neither directly harmful to lizards and amphibians, and to their habitat.”

Ward: IW being “visited by a specialist”
Islander Naomi Hyland also wrote to Island Roads, the MP and the Isle of Wight council. Cllr Ian Ward told her,

“I can assure you that we are taking this matter of managing hedges and verges seriously.

“This week we are being visited by a specialist in this field who is going to advice us about how these issues have been managed in other areas.”

Call for investigation
Naomi told OnTheWight,

“The fact of the matter is that the lizards have been found dead after the herbicide has been sprayed. Island Roads have not given any reassurances that they are looking into this and are going to stop spraying this area.

“I would feel better if they acknowledge that the lizards have died and stop using the product.

“If they could provide the product name then other companies can make sure that they don’t cause the same impact. If they refuse to admit it is their fault, then an investigation should be done for reason of death of the lizards (toxicity tests etc).

Why not seek alternatives?
She added,

“I am concerned that the herbicides are killing the habitats of these creatures and therefore Island populations of these reptiles are dying out.

“I would ask for what reason is this herbicide used? And can an alternative non chemical option be used to protect the islands wildlife and biodiversity?”

OnTheWight has requested the product name of the herbicide being used and will report back once we have an answer.

Image: © Benjamin Tonner

Thursday, 25th April, 2019 5:47pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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10 Comments on "Council won’t budge on concerns over herbicide spraying and death of lizards"

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Which herbicides are they using? Thanks OnTheWight for asking this rather crucial question! And why on Earth are any herbicides at all being used to spray ‘hedges and verges’? Hedges and verges are made from plants, so spraying a herbicide, in other words a pesticide that kills plants, will destroy them! And what about many other organisms? The wild plants, both common and rare, including the Island’s… Read more »
Mark L Francis

Why do they need to use weed-killers on road verges at all?


Well done to Mr David Cutress who first voiced his concerns a few years back now and has tirelessly campaigned against this spraying regime without a blind bit of noticed being taken by all concerned ! Many thanks to On the wight for all the support and backing up this call to end the poisoning of our lizards and wild life.


If anyone want to use a non toxic pesticide to control weeds etc., then make a mixture of white vinegar and common salt + water.I works well and does no harm to wildlife/slugs/snails/birds.

Steve Goodman

Think about adding acidic vinegar and/ or salt to soil and whatever else it supports…

Hot water does the job easily, cheaply, and cleanly for most domestic control needs. When boiling water for something else, any left in the kettle or pan can be used; repeat if necessary.


Ventnor strategy plan environmental sustainability, page 5, point 9 needs the explaining. What public spaces, what pesticides? And why were Island Roads spraying a cut through between Combley and Briddlesford road yesterday which drifted in through my car window? I want to know what I’m inhaling. And whether th chemicals they are using are responsible fo nose bleeds and skin rashes?


It is up to local town and parish councils to declare themselves Pesticide Free and then declare that to the IW Council who must respond to you, like Cowes Town Council has already done due to a submission from Cllr Paul Taylor which led to a vote which was unanimously passed.

Phil Jordan


Can you explain how that works in practice please….?

How does a Town Council declaring themselves ‘pesticide free’ actually lead to that happening?

Any theories why chemicals that have been used in exactly the same way for years have suddenly started killing lizards? Indeed is there any evidence at all that spraying is responsible for harming lizards? And by ‘evidence’ I mean something a little bit more scientific than someone saying hey saw (though strangely did not take a photograph of nor collected for analysis) a dead lizard near where… Read more »
Hi Tyke. You have to go by what the body of available evidence suggests. Toxicology tests for pesticides do not cover reptiles, so they’re spraying ‘blind’ – the users don’t know either way. But work elsewhere in Europe has found Glyphosate to have sublethal effects on one reptile species and several amphibian species. I’d say that such chemicals should be tested for safety before approval. I have… Read more »