City of Joondalup releases draft weed management plan, weedkiller dye knocked back

Poison alert: A weedkiller spraying sign.
Poison alert: A weedkiller spraying sign.

THE City of Joondalup has released its draft weed management plan for community consultation until October 31.

The plan has been developed to guide weed management of the City’s natural areas, parks and urban landscaping over the next five years, including potential environmental impacts from weeds and proposed strategies to minimise them.

A council document from last month said weeds were one of the key environmental threats in the City.

“The invasion of weeds threatens the biodiversity of the City’s natural areas and affects the amenity, functionality and aesthetics of parks and urban landscaping areas,” it said.

“The City of Joondalup has more than 200 identified weed species, including eight declared pest plants and five weeds of national significance.

“Effective weed management is required to ensure that measures are taken to prevent, monitor and control the spread of weeds within the City.”

At the September 20 meeting, Cr Mike Norman moved an alternative motion that included the use of marker dye in applications of herbicide.“I believe marker dye is needed so the operator can clearly see where it has been applied but more importantly, so residents can see that too and avoid any contact with recently sprayed areas if they wish,” he said.

“I believe residents have a right to see where herbicide is applied long after the signs have been removed.

“Infrastructure is not excessively stained if the operator only sprays the weeds and avoids over-spray, as the dye fades rapidly on green plants and on infrastructure after a week or two.”

Cr John Chester agreed saying while “glyphosate or Roundup” had a “moderate toxicity”, there were still “two important issues related to its use in the City”.

“Because it is non-selective, it will kill any plant it comes in contact with, so its use in bushland has to be done with extreme care, hence the use of dyes in natural areas which allows application to be carefully monitored,” he said.

“The other issue is recognising there is some probability that long-term exposure will impact on human and animal health, especially those who may be hypersensitive to chemicals.”

“I think residents have the absolute right to know where it has been used so that they can avoid coming in contact with it, if that is their wish.

“If it boils down to a choice between tolerating potential unsightliness of dyes on infrastructure as opposed to the need to know where the chemical has been used, for safety reasons I would choose the dye.”

Cr Tom McLean said he could not support the alternative motion because seven people with “extensive expertise” on the issue had contributed to the draft plan and “to question their professional ability” raised concerns.

“I’m prepared to stick with their advice,” he said.

Mayor Troy Pickard said it would be “peculiar for the City to put dye in its spray”.

“I can just imagine vast tracts of grassed areas being dyed,” he said.

Infrastructure services director Nico Claassen confirmed the City complied with the required standards for signs to be erected while spraying, while chief executive Garry Hunt added the City has a notification system where people with allergies can register to receive a text message advising them of any spraying that will be occurring near their locality.

The request to use dye was a tied vote, with Mr Pickard casting his deciding vote to decline the request.

Cr Norman’s motion also requested to extend hygiene guidelines for verge and median maintenance to avoid spreading weed seeds, which was also defeated 7-5.

His third recommendation to treat weeds prior to seed set was passed 5-7.