ENVIRONMENTAL group Green Futures held a ‘pesticide awareness day’ last Saturday. The event was a pilot project which will now be rolled out as part of a wider programme in the new year. And once the required paperwork has been approved by the Environment Agency, the group hopes to stage a series of pesticide ‘amnesties’ where residents will be able to hand in their unwanted pesticides, safe in the knowledge they will be safely disposed.

The event, held at Bradley Barton in Newton Abbot, was held thanks to support from Devon County Council, Newton Abbot Town Council, SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK, the Devon Environment Foundation and Teignbridge District Council.

As well as raising awareness the group handed out packets of wildflower seeds, courtesy of the Bradley Bug Recovery Network. The network is a partnership project, co-ordinated by Green Futures, to show what a local community can do to make a difference and reverse this concerning decline in pollinators.

Green Futures spokesman Andrew Rothery said: ‘Pesticides are a wide range of chemicals that are designed to kill plants, insects and other forms of life that could reduce the productivity of agricultural crops or garden plants that we want to see flourish. We also use some pesticides to kill weeds that may be growing where we don’t want them to.

‘Despite assurances that pesticides are “specific” chemicals that break down relatively quickly in the environment, they are found in our water supply, in our soil and even within our own body.’

Since the 1950’s there has been growing evidence that pesticides cause damage to a wide range of organisms that live in the wild and more recently it has been confirmed that pesticide usage has been one of the factors behind the observed decline in pollinating insects within the U.K. and across the rest of the world over the last 40 years.’

Green Futures chairperson, Sam Hibbert said: ‘Our aim is to engage directly with local people in their own community. If we can find out what people think about pesticides and support them to introduce chemical-free gardening, we can create a cleaner and greener environment that supports more pollinators and a healthier future for our children and grandchildren!’

The Bradley Pesticide Amnesty was generously funded by County Councillor for Newton Abbot North, Phil Bullivant, who said: ‘It makes sense to do all we can to encourage pollinators. If we can go pesticide-free in our gardens, we can help bees and other insects to flourish and that means better food production and a more resilient ecosystem.’

Having made a positive start in Bradley Barton, the aim is to run a pesticide amnesty for the whole of the Bradley Ward area, including Highweek and Hele Park, where people will be able to bring in any unused pesticides that are in the back of the garden shed.

SUEZ Senior Site Manager, Tom Clarke came down to see the progress at Bradley and confirmed their support for the initiative: ‘At SUEZ we’re passionate about protecting our natural environment, and improving biodiversity is an important part of this. We’re pleased to support Green Futures in this project by ensuring that all products that are handed in will be disposed of safely.’

Newton Abbot Town Councillor Mike Hocking said: ‘This initial research into the attitudes of local people towards pesticide use clearly shows that there is a growing move to go pesticide-free, and those who are still using chemicals to control insects and weeds are open to exploring other options. We now want to expand this work to reach all the other residents across the Bradley area.’

► For more information about Green Futures do check out their website www.greenfutures-newtonabbot.co.uk or email [email protected]