July 2016 Update: AIDA originally wrote to the shire in October 2015 with a request to review its use of herbicide in public spaces, around trees, fences and bollards, and along pathways, drains and roadsides in and around Aireys Inlet.
The spraying regime had resulted in some very ugly and unnecessarily large areas of bald earth and the only obvious reason for the spraying is to facilitate grass mowing in these areas. Our letter included some photos.
AIDA asked the shire to stop using spray and to consider alternatives such as using a brush cutter, mulching or planting indigenous species around the bases of trees, around bollards and fences, planting rushes and native grasses in the steeper drains.
The shire responded quickly and agreed that there are opportunities to trial changing some of their processes. They said they will tell their staff to stop using spray and use mulch under trees, let the grass grow in the areas under bollards and fences where there is grass on both sides and use brush cutters when necessary. They will also investigate planting the embankment of the various drains and, if this approach is approved, planting will begin next winter.
We had a very positive response and the shire agreed to stop using herbicide and trial some other approaches and we had been enjoying watching the grass slowly recovering. Unfortunately herbicide was used again in July 2016 and the limited regrowth that had occurred has been knocked back.
AIDA raised this with the Parks and Open Space staff at the council who apologised and told us this was due to a misunderstanding. They also informed AIDA they are reducing the use of herbicide across the shire and are continuing to look at other options. These are:
• using mulch where possible
• allowing the grass to grow around structures such as bollards, signs and fences and using brush-cutters occasionally
• trialling plant-derived herbicides to control weeds in places such as gravel paths
• removing any unnecessary in-ground structures
We welcome the reduction of herbicide use and the trialing of the more environmentally friendly growth inhibitors. We are also pleased that the grass will be allowed to grow to cover the large areas of bare earth.