Contractors will be out in the streets next week using a weedkiller which was banned in the city five years ago.

Glyphosate, a herbicide used to tackle weeds, was banned by the then Labour council in 2019 over concerns it could cause cancer and damage the environment.

But at Brighton and Hove City Council meeting on January 23 this year the city environment, South Downs and the sea committee voted to introduce a “controlled-droplet” application of glyphosate to manage and remove weeds from hard surfaces.

The World Health Organisation said the chemical is "probably carcinogenic to humans" but manufacturer Bayer and the European Union insist it is safe.

From Monday, May 13, contractors will be out in Portslade and across the city over coming days.

Currently, the plan is for three applications over the year, but if treatments are not necessary they will not be used.

The new approach is “more targeted and sustainable” than previous glyphosate application methods, the council said.

It said the method will get to the root of the weeds while also reducing the risk of run off to other plants or parts of the street where it is not needed.

Treatment will only be applied to visible weeds on roads and pavements. Glyphosate won’t be used in parks and open spaces or on any roads that don’t need to be treated.

Any streets already maintained by residents or community groups will require little or no treatment.

Steve Geliot, co-founder of the Save Our Starlings campaign, told The Argus: “I welcome community weeding initiatives hugely.

“But for the baby starlings, who hatched about a week ago, there is potentially a big problem. When they all fledge at the end of the month they will quickly all move out to the countryside, but between now and then, for a couple of weeks, the risk of baby starlings and many other species in the suburban breeding grounds being exposed to glyphosate could be quite high.

“It is also particularly risky for children, pets and wheelchair users when they pass through treated areas.”

The council said its new approach is designed as a “reset” to tackle the current scale of the problem. Once weeds are back under control, it said it will reduce the use of glyphosate to the lowest level possible to maintain safe and accessible streets.

Councillor Tim Rowkins, chairman of the city environment, South Downs and the sea committee, said: “We have a duty to ensure our roads and pavements are safe and accessible for all of our residents and visitors but five years of manual weeding alone simply hasn’t been effective and we have been forced to act.

“Treatment will not be applied in parks or green spaces and it won’t be used on wildflowers unless they are presenting a hazard.

“We’d love to have the help of residents and community groups to keep treatment to a minimum so please do get in touch with the tidy up team if you’d like to be involved. They can help by providing sacks and tools, as well as collecting the waste.”