A CAMPAIGN to make Edinburgh a pesticide-free city is being led by the people of Balerno, the suburb to the west of the capital.

The Pesticide Free Balerno campaign is spearheading localised attempts to stop the use of pesticides by carrying out weeding across its area to ensure that Edinburgh City Council doesn’t have to use glyphosates.

The council has committed to reducing its use of glyphosate weedkillers which have been linked to health problems in humans and animals. A large-scale trial of alternatives to glyphosates may take place next year.

Joining in the campaign is Pesticide Free Portobello on the other side of the city, while a group has been suggested in Gorgie. A petition urging the council to act on glyphosates has attracted more than 17,000 signatures.

A spokesperson for the Balerno group said: “Our volunteer weeding group is sponsored by our local Scotmid and we have been removing weeds manually in the community this year to support Edinburgh Council moving towards safe alternatives.

“During this time we have had to be flexible and creative, working around volunteers’ availability, location availability, commitments and government guidelines on social distancing and number of household limitations.

“The group has been working together but apart, in individual household groups, gradually then opening up to working with a few households together as guidelines allow working at different parts or sides of streets and areas. Parents are bringing kids to participate and to get involved – after all, it is their future.

“There’s a huge level of positive support for this initiative. We’ve been contacted by local people who work in large companies who would like to use their volunteer days to help.

“People out on daily walks are engaging by noticing efforts and results and calling over with gratitude and encouragement. As businesses started to re-open we supported them by making sure premises and the Main Street were weed free. “