A NEW dedicated group of councillors will explore ways to improve air quality, natural habitats and bio-diversity across the borough.

Plans to create the new conservation and environmental sustainability task and finish group were ratified unanimously by council’s cabinet.

The new group, which will include eight councillors of all parties, will work on ways to encourage renewable energy usage, explore how to reduce the town’s carbon footprint and boost the area’s ecology.

Mark Goacher, Colchester’s first Green party councillor, has been given a seat at the table.

He said: “It is a very good idea. The council has done a lot of good work but there is a long way to go.”

Mr Goacher asked the group be able to look at issues like glyphosates, a potentially dangerous herbicide used by the council in places like Castle Park.

He said: “The main issue is replacing them but I believe Glastonbury Council, which has a large Green Party group, has stopping using them and replaced it with a new technology which puts foam on weeds.

“I agree that hand weeding is a non-starter but this is a relatively low cost system which is more effective so it has costs benefits over time.

“You have to spend money to get the equipment but they have found over time it becomes more economical despite the outlay at the start.

“It is issues like this where the group could make a huge difference.”

Leader Mark Cory, who proposed setting up the group last financial year, said the council had a good record on environmental issues but wants to do better.

He said: “We have done a sterling job but we have a number of further steps to take.

“We want to see actions delivered to ensure we are building a more sustainable environment.”

He promises the new task and finish group would be “more cross party and less partisan” than if the council were to create a committee.

Mr Cory said: “We want to cover issues like glyphosates.

“We have looked at them before but it is time to take action now and bring forward the details.”