MORE than 31,000 people have signed a petition asking to stop the spraying of herbicides and pesticides in two Somerset villages.

Georgie Lyng, who lives in between Bishop’s Lydeard and Cotford St Luke, has started a petition calling on both parish councils to stop spraying weedkiller on wildflowers in the area.

Cotford St Luke Parish Council have said they are 'keen to find alternative methods' of weed control.

However, Bishops Lydeard Parish Council have said they do not spray any of their patches of land and the ones that are sprayed, are dealt with by the district and county council.

Ms Lyng, 51, decided to start the petition when she saw a group of teenagers eating sandwiches in Cotford St Luke where she had seen a contractor “drenching” daisies in weedkiller.

Somerset County Gazette: PETITION: Georgie Lyng started a campaign to stop councils spraying pesticides

“It made me shudder to think what chemicals they were unwittingly ingesting and breathing in,” she said.

“So when Cotford St Luke parish council wrote a warning on social media last week saying that this years spraying would commence this week, I decided to raise a petition against it.

“I thought I might get a few hundred signatures at most and upset the apple cart a bit, but it jumped very quickly to several thousand.

“I was shocked and pleased, that after just five days it had reached over 25,000.

“I have also been getting messages from random strangers, asking me if they can use my petition as a template to challenge their own councils.

“Can you imagine how many thousands of litres of toxic pesticides and herbicides we could get out of the environment if everyone ran similar petitions? That’s my dream!

“I’m asking people to sign the petition, because this is about creating a permanent shift in society for how we do things, and how we tackle climate change.

“Quite simply, we can do things better.

“We do it by demanding our local councils do things ecologically better on our behalf.”

Cotford St Luke Parish Council has said they took advice from Somerset Wildlife Trust after the petition was launched.

“The parish council is not committed to using glyphosate and is at this time actively researching alternative controls which are environmentally friendly,” a spokesperson for the council said.

“The village is fortunate to have large areas of unmaintained wild flood plain and the parish council is developing a project to plant wild flowers areas for fauna to inhabit, in collaboration with volunteers resident in Cotford St Luke.

“We are keen to find alternative methods of weed control and will be consulting experts on the matter in the near future.”

In the petition, Ms Lyng says weedkillers are damaging to human health and can cause issues such as sore throats, headaches, nausea and event cancer.

As well as this, Ms Lyng, who is a natural beekeeper, is concerned that the pesticides will kill the bees that pollinate the wildflowers.

“Estimates suggest we rely on honey bees to pollinate up to two-thirds of the food on our plates,” she added.

“Pollinators cannot read road signs. And if they land on flowers that have been sprayed, they inevitably take these chemicals back to their nests and poison themselves and the whole colony.”

Bishops Lydeard Parish Council explained all the roads and verges in the parish are owned or maintained by Somerset County Council (SCC).

“The parish council does not spray toxic herbicides to “clean up” verges nor, as I’m trying to make clear, are we in a position to do so,” said a spokesperson for Bishop’s Lydeard Parish Council.

“The petition refers to our declaration of a 'climate emergency'.

“We take that declaration seriously and are engaged in a range of projects that reflect our commitment.

“All our parish coucnil meetings are open to local residents and any petitioners who live within our parish are very welcome to attend and let us know how we can respond to their concerns.”

SCC has said they only use environmentally friendly weed killing methods. 

An SCC spokesperson said: “Our teams only use environmentally friendly non-residual herbicides in a controlled manner that leaves no residue after 24 hours - they do not carry out widespread spraying applications.

“Our Weedit machine minimises the amount of chemicals use by targeting weeds with a sophisticated computerised system.

“We can confirm that the County Council does not use fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, bactericides or larvicides.”

To sign the petition visit change.org/p/cotford-st-luke-parish-council-stop-spraying-our-village-and-killing-pollinators.