The Welsh Government is considering a country-wide ban on artificial grass following “worrying reports” of the toxicity levels emitted.
Climate change minister Julie James confirms she “wants to explore proactively” the possibility of a ban across Wales.
Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams raised a concern regarding the use of artificial grass by the Swansea Council as part of the city’s regeneration. Swansea confirmed it “would not be used by the council in the public realm, even on a temporary basis going forward,” leading Williams to ask whether the Welsh government would commit in banning artificial grass in government schemes, excluding “sports fields”.
Williams highlighted research conducted by the University of Sheffield that showed natural gardens help to reduce the temperature of urban areas, while “absorbing rain, thereby reducing the risk of flash flooding, and offering much needed refuge for wildlife.”
In response, James stated: “Artificial grass really does have a very, very bad effect on the local sustainability of a large number of areas in Wales.
“As you rightly said, there is a short-term focus on maybe its lower maintenance; but, actually, weeds come up through artificial grass. It can be very difficult to clean, if an animal has been on it, and actually there are quite worrying reports from a number of university sources, saying that the toxicity coming off artificial grass, if it’s played on by children and so on, is quite alarming.
“So, actually, I really do think we need to get a public information campaign going about why it isn’t the short-term solution it looks like for people. I’ve also noticed a slightly worrying tendency for artificial hedges and pots and things. You only have to look at those after one autumn of rain to see that they’ve leached the colour out of them and they’ve gone into the environment.”
Under the Environmental Protection (Single-use Plastic Products) (Wales) Bill scheduled to take a phased approach beginning in autumn 2023, it will be a criminal offence to supply or offer to supply specific single-use plastic products to consumers in Wales.
With the introduction of this law, the first of its kind in the UK, James has been appointed new powers, affording her the stature to put forward the potential
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