A CONTROVERSIAL weed killer which has been linked to causing cancer in a court ruling will continue to be used in Torfaen, after the council carried out a review prompted by a petition.

Nearly 700 people signed the online petition, titled “stop spraying our towns with probable cancer causing glyphosate,” which was handed to the authority in the autumn.

Louise Kirby, who handed in the petition, urged the council to reassess its use of a glyphosate-based weed killer in the borough.

“It’s dangerous and we have to stop using it,” she said.

But after carrying out a review - which included looking at recent legal cases and other local authority policies, and taking advice from experts, the county borough is recommending to continue using the herbicide glyphosate.

The council, which uses the weedkiller to treat pavements and Japanese Knotweed, says it does not agree that glyphosate is a danger to the general public, providing it is applied in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

A letter which the council is proposing to send to Ms Kirby adds: “To minimise any contamination of the environment, the methodology used to apply glyphosate, minimises the quantity of chemical used.

“This ensures that in the majority of cases, glyphosate only reaches the surface of the weeds that we wish to kill, and as such reduces the likelihood of contaminating water.

“The absorption rate is also rapid to minimise any impact on insects.”

However the authority says it will continue to “closely monitor ongoing research”, including looking at the development of alternative options for the future.

A council report identifies several risks associated with continuing to use the weedkiller.

These include continued public concern, possible risk to pollinating insects, risk to staff if they fail to follow risk assessments and possible risk to the public if they come into contact with glyphosate.

But there are also risks associated with changing the product, including the high cost of using alternative less effective products, inability to control Japanese Knotweed resulting in its spread and extensive weed growth on hard surfaces causing structural defects.

The council says all spraying is done in accordance with the relevant health and safety legislation, Welsh Government and European guidelines.