On Tuesday 14 May 2024, MPs, councillors and NGOs gathered in Westminster to launch the Pesticide Collaboration’s new campaign, which calls for a national ban on urban pesticides. 

The aim of the campaign is for the government to ban the use of pesticides in publicly-run areas. This, in practice, will mean that pesticides would not be permitted for use in towns, cities, parks and green spaces. 

We heard from Baroness Hayman of Ullock, Labour’s Shadow Defra Spokesperson in the House of Lords, as well as from Caroline Lucas MP and Wera Hobhouse MP. 

Two councillors also made the case for a national ban, Cllr Sam Carling from Cambridge City Council and Cllr Paul Dimoldenberg explained their councils’ approaches to becoming pesticide-free, and how 

The launch event followed on from an Early Day Motion on the topic, which was signed by a group of 20 cross-party MPs. 

This national campaign builds on the work of PAN UK’s Pesticide Free Towns campaign. Over 100 local authorities across the UK have either ended their use of pesticides or taken significant steps towards doing so. This is hugely significant and demonstrates that there is a strong desire amongst councils to reduce local residents’ exposure and to protect our environment from harmful pesticides.

Pesticide use in urban areas only constitutes approximately 10% of the UK’s total usage, but it is the second most common route through which people are exposed to pesticides (after diet). Committing to a phase-out is a tangible and achievable action that will support biodiversity in our towns and cities while also protecting human health. We should follow the example of France, Luxembourg and Denmark – who have all already banned the use of urban pesticides. 

It is well-known that local councils’ budgets have been squeezed and there is a lack of resources and funding for basic services. The councils that have managed to go pesticide-free have done so with no support, simply because we are committed to better protecting human health from chemicals and bringing nature back to our towns and cities. 

If a UK-wide ban was introduced by the UK Government, then it wouldn’t be up to individual local authorities to chart our own course when it comes to going pesticide-free. There would be much needed vision and ambition, as well as funding and guidance from above, providing leadership that enabled councils to learn from each other’s experiences so that best practice could be followed easily. 

We will soon be launching our public petition and social media campaign, stay tuned!