In response to feedback from the Illawarra community over the past few days, Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation’s (ISJO) Chair Cr Gordon Bradbery has advised “I have requested a complete review to be undertaken of the proposed aerial spraying with RoundUp across targeted Illawarra sites by the Illawarra District Weeds Authority (IDWA)”. 

“We have listened to the concerns of the community with regards the use of Roundup, and are looking to refine or adjust methods to manage the bitou bush on the five targeted sites using the best science available.”

These sites comprise parcels of land at the following locations:

  • Sydney Water/Wollongong City Council managed reserve at Coniston Beach
  • Sydney Water/Wollongong City Council managed reserve at Hill 60
  • NSW Crown Land reserve at the northern end of Perkins Beach
  • Hansen Quarry site and adjacent crown land reserve managed by Shellharbour City Council at Bass Point
  • NSW Crown land reserve, private land and Kiama Municipal Council managed land at Gerringong/Gerroa

For two of these five sites (Perkins Beach and Bass Point), it had been proposed to use RoundUp on predetermined sections of each land parcel with the remainder being treated with another herbicide called Brush-Off; and the other three sites only being treated with Brush-Off.  The results of the review will be considered at the ISJO Board meeting on Friday 14 June and an announcement late that afternoon.

In all cases these sites contain heavily infested areas of bitou bush which the NSW government has deemed to be a high priority weed.  The IDWA operates under the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 and Biosecurity Regulation 2017 which requires this risk to be mitigated.  These five sites have been targeted due to bitou bush being located in inaccessible areas that make hand spraying or hand pulling of weeds impracticable which is why aerial spraying is deemed to be the most effective, cost efficient and safe method.

Last week the IDWA commenced letterbox drops to neighbouring areas to advise residents of the aerial spraying scheduled to take place in late June. 

In response to community concerns about ‘spray drift’, Cr Gordon Bradbery has been advised that “aerial spraying involves spraying from a boom spray rig attached to a helicopter flying at very low altitude (ie 5 m above the Bitou bush plants).  Spray drift is managed by only undertaking the aerial spraying when there are stable weather conditions.  The helicopter blades create a downdraft which directs the spray onto the target area.  This method has been safely used during the 20 years the IDWA has operated with no incidence of drift reported.”