Island Roads change approach to removing weeds from Isle of Wight highways

The new method ensures Island Roads maintains the required level of service in a way that looks after the environment

Weed operatives

Island Roads is to adopt a new approach to removing weeds from the highway network.

The company will this year employ extra seasonal staff to remove weeds, wherever possible, by hand and traditional tools. Previously the approach to weed-removal was more reliant on the use of herbicides, often sprayed by contractors on quad bikes.

As well as moving away from the previous use of quad bike teams Island Roads will also from this year supplement the new ‘hands-on’ approach by using an organic-based herbicide where manual removal is not possible.

The new method has been agreed by Island Roads following local feedback including dialogue with local stakeholders and in in line with moves from within the highway maintenance industry to reduce herbicide use. Island Roads is required to undertake specified weed removal in its contract with the IW Council.

Dave Wallis, Island Roads operations and maintenance manager, said,

“We keep our processes under review and are particularly keen to look how we can improve the way we do things. Customer feedback and industry best practice is a key part of our consideration.

“This new method will ensure we continue to maintain the required level of service and in a way that reflects our commitment to working in a way that looks after the environment.

“We have always carried out weed removal in a safe way using licenced products and standard industry practices but we are always prepared to do things differently as long as we continue to meet all the contractual and safety requirements.”

Cllr John Nicholson who liaises with Island Roads in his capacity as chairman of the Island’s Working Well Together Group welcomed the move.

He said,

“I know that Island Roads takes its obligations very seriously and is always looking to do the right thing. It is a big organisation in Island terms but is prepared to try something different if it means it can do its job in a better way.”

Image (L-R) operative Lee Cotton and charge hand Amanda Cooney

News shared by Gavin behalf of Island Roads. Ed

Thursday, 4th March, 2021 5:15pm



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

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10 Comments on "Island Roads change approach to removing weeds from Isle of Wight highways"

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Fantastic news and about time. Let’s hope they do it all manually and avoid the herbicides altogether. Also, it would be nice to see them selectively leaving some weeds to grow – we had wonderful poppies and many more around the Ventnor pavements last year.

Steve Goodman

It certainly sounds like a step in the right direction; as it’s IR some worry remains about what “wherever possible” and “where manual removal is not possible” will turn out to mean, given that machine-free and chemical-free control was always and is still possible, and (from memory) that some “organic-based” herbicides (eg glyphosate) are toxic to various degrees…


This is very good news. The way that council employees used to speed up and down on their quad bikes spraying strong chemicals over pavements and around street trees, disappearing without leaving any notices warning people (pet owners in particular), was always concerning.

No, Island Roads, you cannot claim that spraying neonicotinoid herbicides from quad bikes was safe practice. That was endangering human and other animals’ health. But at last you are listening and changing your ways. Now stop calling them weeds and take a course in botany. Some native wild plants are shallow rooting and will do no harm to pavement edges or walls, but enhance our built environment… Read more »

Great news! Thank you!

Rhos yr Alarch

Phew – at last some good sense prevails! Hitherto the spraying regime has been liberal and indisriminate. Hopefully some of the native plants will be left in place if they are not affecting drainage of safety of the public…


Thank you, decision makers!

I’m all for avoiding herbicides, but I’m sure we’ll pay more for this approach in the long run with IR. When people question “why is there weeds everywhere?” Island Roads will just say they’re taking the environmental approach (ie; off the hook). A mixture of all methods is the best. Hand pulling and regular maintenance in sensitive areas. Spraying glyphosate or hot foam on new highways/kerbs where… Read more »

The trouble with pesticides being a ‘cheap’ option is that the costs come along later in the form of damaged habitats and damage to people’s health.

Benny C

Hopefully people are more likely to ask ‘why are there more weeds everywhere.’ Spraying herbicides is yesterday’s hero. Catch up.