Positive outcomes for bitou bush spraying

Published on 18 June 2019

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MidCoast Council says its winter aerial spraying program to control bitou bush along the coast does not use the product that has been associated with legal proceedings in the USA.

The aerial spraying program, which is underway until Friday 28 June, weather permitting, uses a product that contains glyphosate, and is  carried out following recommendations contained in the ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Aerial Spraying of Bitou Bush in New South Wales’ published by the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The legal findings in the USA relate to an ingredient in the original form of glyphosate, called polyethoxylated tallow amines (POEAs). MidCoast Council does not use this form of glyphosate, it uses glyphosate biactive.

“Aerial spraying for bitou bush has provided significant positive outcomes to our coastal environment," Council’s Manager of Natural Systems, Gerard Tuckerman explained.

By working with National Parks on the program across the entire MidCoast coastline the incidence of bitou bush in our region has decreased dramatically over recent years, and control will eventually reach a point where aerial spraying is unlikely to be required.

When applying the glyphosate product, MidCoast Council closely follows the NSW Government’s (Office of Environment and Heritage) best practice guidelines to ensure public safety and the areas treated are generally inaccessible to the public. The activity is also undertaken at a time of year when beach use is low.

“Our aerial spraying program for bitou bush is part of a long established, regulated and approved program,” Mr Tuckerman said.

“While we understand the community can be concerned about the use of chemicals in the environment, we do not use chemicals unless they are approved for such use by relevant authorities and do so in accordance with best practice management guidelines, to ensure maximum efficiencies and safety.”

When undertaking aerial spraying programs MidCoast Council installs signage in the relevant areas, advertises in local newspapers and also notifies local schools.

The activity is also undertaken at a time of year when beach use is low. Other measures to exclude any public exposure, such as closures of nearby public areas and no-spray buffer zones from known sensitive areas such as schools and buildings.

Sections of beaches and some adjacent camping areas, car parks and roads will be subject to short term temporary closures on the days when spraying occurs.

The use of pesticides in NSW is regulated by the national regulator for agricultural chemicals, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). This authority has recently reaffirmed their position on the use of products containing glyphosate and continues to track and consider any new scientific information associated with the safety and effectiveness of glyphosate.

“We regularly review our vegetation management program and are currently looking at options, where site conditions and growth patterns allow, to support our integrated pest management program.”

Council’s website provides information on aerial spraying for control of bitou bush, fact sheets on aerial spraying and a statement of our position on the use of glyphosate on the Weed Management projects page.

You can also find more information about the use of glyphosate in Australia on the APVMA website.