Toxic spray used by East Lothian Council near Site of Special Scientific Interest

East Lothian residents have reacted with anger to news that the local Council has been using a toxic spray on parks, paths and verges which is banned in some European countries and US states.

Now, North Berwick residents have uncovered Council workers using a spray near a protected site of special scientific interest (SSSI) in the town.

Residents living close to Berwick Law, contacted East Lothian Greens following publication of the revelations. They have submitted images and testimony which shows Council workers using weedkillers behind the houses of Glenburn Road, along a wall which borders a Conservation area wetland. 

The chemicals sprayed in this area will seep into the ground, the pond and marsh which feeds a wetland Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

The wetland is an important habitat for many species of water birds (teal, moorhen, Little Grebe, swans, Greylag Geese, herons as well as other wetland wildlife. 

Spraying chemicals in a way that endangers an SSSI may be illegal without the permission of Scottish Natural Heritage.

However, Council officials have confirmed to the Scottish Greens that workers have been using Roundup ProVantage at sites across the county. The spray contains glyphosate, which can kill birds, bees, worms and fish.

Following the revelations, more than 300 residents have signed a petition calling for its ban. 

Council spokespeople told the media that they believed glyphosate "can be used without unacceptable risks to people or the environment" and that the Council use glyphosate products "only where mulching or manual control is not possible."

However, Mark James, Scottish Greens candidate for Dunbar & East Linton in the forthcoming local elections refuted the Council’s claims.

Mark commented:

What the Council claims just does not tally with what experts are telling us and residents of East Lothian are seeing with their own eyes.

Glyphosate is a toxic chemical and the council’s operatives are spraying it in a widespread and indiscriminate way.

This is reckless, unacceptable and must stop immediately.

In East Linton, Dunbar, Haddington, Musselburgh, North Berwick, Prestonpans and Tranent, residents all report the use of the spray near other plants, play parks, water courses and seafronts - settings which even the manufacturer says the chemical is not suitable for. 

Jacq Cottrell, North Berwick Coastal Greens candidate, said:

This wilful destruction of our environment is an absolute scandal. It is bad enough that a toxic chemical is being used in our parks and streets, but for it to be used near a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest beggars belief.

After these revelations, residents can have no confidence in the Council’s ability to keep our open spaces healthy and safe for people, pets and wildlife.

East Lothian Greens have called for an immediate suspension of all but emergency ground works until the Council has carried out a full, publicly available, environmental audit of the chemicals supplied to its workers - or used by its contractors.

Shona McIntosh, Scottish Greens candidate for Musselburgh, commented:

The Council needs to wake up to the biodiversity crisis which they are making worse. The only way this will happen is through a genuinely radical change in the political make-up of our councillors this May.

For more information about the East Lothian Greens Local Election campaign, please visit ​