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Byron Shire
April 14, 2021

Steam weeding trial ‘steamrolled’ says operator

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Paul Sommers was asked by Council to conduct steam-weeding trials in February 2014. Photo Jeff Dawson


Hans Lovejoy

Byron Shire Council is planning to buy steam weeding equipment for its staff to operate following a trial of the chemical-free method that the operator says was conducted in less than optimal conditions.

The announcement to investigate chemical-free weed control comes amid claims by the contractor that he was asked by staff to conduct the trial in less than optimal conditions.

Council’s general manager Ken Gainger has refused to explain why the contractor has not been given the opportunity to produce the best outcomes.

Contractor and garden maintenance operator Paul Sommers says despite ‘repeated’ advice that best results would be achieved by another treatment within a few weeks, he was instead instructed by staff to undertake sporadic sprays.

Questions put to the GM by The Echo were instead answered by Council’s infrastructure services director, Phil Holloway. He now backs steam weeding, despite questioning its effectiveness recently to Echonetdaily.

Mr Holloway said, ‘We are convinced that this weed-control method should be embedded into council’s ongoing weed-control program, so we are currently investigating the purchasing of our own equipment and the licensing and training of our own operators.’

‘We are confident that the elected council will support this initiative and provide us with the budget required to do this effectively,’ Mr Holloway said. He added the outcomes of the trial will be reported to council in February.


Mr Sommers told The Echo he is ‘bewildered’ why council staff would first ignore his advice on producing a best trial outcome, downplay the effectiveness of chemical-free spraying and then announce intentions to invest in the machinery themselves.

The technology used is manufactured by Australian company Weedtechnics, who claim there are currently over 80 chemical-free weed control projects in place across the country. The invention steams weeds with a patented nozzle, and has been taken up by councils across Australia to achieve chemical-free open spaces and parks.

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