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Haverhill environmental campaigner Nan Eshelby calls on people to support a bid to ban the use of pesticides in built-up areas





A campaigner for the welfare of bees and biodiversity has urged people to support a motion to Parliament calling for pesticides to be banned in urban areas.

Nan Eshelby, of Haverhill has made the call after Suffolk County Council resumed spraying weedkiller in parts of the town.

She said: “Sixty-two years ago, Rachel Carson published the book ‘Silent Spring’.

Nan Eshelby, on right with fellow supporters, wants people to support an early day motion in Parliament for a ban on using pesticides in urban areas after Suffolk County Council resumed the spraying of weeds in Haverhill. Picture: Mark Westley
Nan Eshelby, on right with fellow supporters, wants people to support an early day motion in Parliament for a ban on using pesticides in urban areas after Suffolk County Council resumed the spraying of weeds in Haverhill. Picture: Mark Westley

“Carson was concerned with environmental problems that were caused by pesticides.

“The book resulted in massive changes in policy and use of pesticides in the USA. So, why after 62 years am I asking myself, have we learned nothing? Why do I feel so deeply sad and question whether there is any point in trying to help nature.”

Eighteen months ago Nan worked with Cllr Joe Mason and Cllr Julia Wakelam to draft a motion to West Suffolk Council, which was adopted, for it to stop using glyphosate in its weedkiller.

Bee/environment campaigner Nan Eshelby (right) with Castle Manor Academy teacher Angelica Cofer and students from the school’s Eco Club. Picture: Mark Westley
Bee/environment campaigner Nan Eshelby (right) with Castle Manor Academy teacher Angelica Cofer and students from the school’s Eco Club. Picture: Mark Westley

But after the county council began to use weedkiller in Haverhill, Nan said: “I believe most people in Haverhill would love to discuss alternatives, just look at the number of hours that are invested in litter picking, people here care for their surroundings.

“This is a community that would be interested in knowing what other alternatives are out there and there are alternatives, lots of them.

“Eight European countries already use many other methods as do many councils in the UK.

“One example is where communities look after their own verges and areas near them, they weed or cut or strim and get help and advice from the council.”

Another example, explained Nan, is a piece of kit that looks like a large floor cleaner which uses hot water and steam and a large brush, and this is useful for areas which need to be clear such as foot paths. If you are interested do read the ‘Pesticide Action Network, Europe’ report called ‘Pesticide Free Towns: A Diversity of European Approaches’.

The base of a planter near Tesco is one of the places to have been sprayed in Haverhill, said Nan.

“I really must gasp at a situation where we plant flowers in the top of the planter to attract bees and then spray round the bottom with something which will kill them, “ she said.

“This is bad enough, but the spraying was being done late morning when bees would be active, maximising the harm.

“No matter your age you must have seen the reduction in the wildlife around us, is this what we want for our children and grandchildren, a silent spring?

“In 60 years have we not come to a point where we can, at the very least, have an open-minded discussion with the community about a better way forward and utilise practises which are already working elsewhere?

“Haverhill Town Council has actively actioned various initiatives around the town which have made great benefits, eg leaving areas uncut, making a big difference to wildlife.

Nan urged people to contact councillors, MP’s and even support Caroline Lucas MP’s bid to bring an early day motion to Parliament that calls for the banning of pesticides in urban areas.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said it has reverted to using glyphosate but will only use it ‘when appropriate’ and it will use a variety of methods to control weeds on its highway network.