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Turf dug up after Highland Council admits weedkiller blunder over Ross-shire playpark


By Philip Murray

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The yellowed grass where the weedkiller was used is clearly visible.
The yellowed grass where the weedkiller was used is clearly visible.

RED-FACED council staff have had to rip up turf in a Ross play park after using a weedkiller in breach of their own rules.

Highland Council voted in 2019 to restrict the use of weedkillers containing glyphosate amid growing concerns that they may have carcinogenic properties, and after a spate of high-profile legal cases in the USA highlighted the chemical’s potential risks to people and wildlife such as bees.

The council’s change in policy barred them from being used on the likes of play parks and sports fields, in a bid to ensure public safety.

The yellowed grass where the weedkiller was used is clearly visible.
The yellowed grass where the weedkiller was used is clearly visible.

But one eagle-eyed Ross resident has left the council with egg on its face after spotting the glyphosate-based weedkiller ProShield being used around playground equipment in Evanton’s Ash Hill.

The resident, who did not wish to be named, raised the alarm with local councillors including Mike Finlayson.

The local authority’s staff have since ripped up the affected turf and replaced it.

Although the move has been welcomed, the resident believes the issue should never have happened in the first place.

She claimed that ProShield’s own instructions clearly state that it should not be used on any grassed areas, and is intended only for use on man-made surfaces as a way of preventing weeds and grass from taking root.

And she is also concerned that the incident is not a one-off.

“The manufacturers of ProShield state clearly that it is not meant to be sprayed on surfaces that are expected to “bear vegetation,” she said. “It probably should not be used at all but definitely not on grassy areas.

“However, throughout Evanton, the areas around trees have been sprayed; the perimeter of the park has been sprayed and a drystone dyke has also been sprayed.

“I was in Alness yesterday and every tree is sprayed round the roots – verges and grassy areas, all over the place.”

The turf while it was being dug up and replaced.
The turf while it was being dug up and replaced.

Admitting the mistaken use of ProShield at the playpark in Ash Hill, a council spokesman said: “After investigation it would appear that a Highland Council operative did mistakenly spray ProShield, which has glyphosate as an active ingredient, in this play park. The operative failed to identify the product contained glyphosate.

The turf while it was being dug up and replaced.
The turf while it was being dug up and replaced.

“Management immediately issued an instruction to remove the turf where this incident took place and replace it with new turf.

“We are sorry this mistake has happened and as soon as we knew about it we took remedial action.”

The resident said Cllr Finlayson deserved “huge credit” for the swift action.

Cllr Mike Finlayson.
Cllr Mike Finlayson.

Cllr Finlayson said that while the error was disappointing, it was good that the council quickly sought to rectify it, adding: “Mistakes can be made and they are willing to rectify it, so I’m pleased to have [seen] that.”


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