Plaid Cymru MS Sioned Williams succeeded in securing a commitment from the Welsh Government to look into banning artificial grass in publicly-funded areas, following calls from the MS.
In a question to the Climate Change Minister, Julie James, Sioned Williams MS called on the Welsh Government to ban the use of artificial grass in spaces over which the Welsh Government has control, with the exception of sports fields, and to consider providing financial incentives to encourage and reward sustainable garden management.
In response, the Climate Change Minister said that she would set-up a public information campaign about the problems with artificial grass, and committed to look into banning artificial grass in publicly-funded areas and explore whether the Welsh Government's new single-use plastics Bill could potentially be used to introduce a wider ban in Wales.
South Wales West MS Sioned Williams said:
"Recently published research by Professor Ross Cameron of the University of Sheffield highlights the environmental importance of natural gardens. They play a vital role in cooling urban areas, absorbing rain, thereby reducing the risk of flash flooding, and offering much needed refuge, of course, for wildlife. The report outlines some of the trends of garden design and maintenance that are damaging for the urban environment, and one of these is the use of artificial grass. Artificial grass is made of plastic and other synthetic materials, which, despite the perception of being maintenance free, requires regular cleaning and has a life span of eight to 15 years, after which sustainable disposal can be challenging. Aside from reducing the benefits of natural gardens, using artificial grass carries other environmental implications, such as hindering the habitat of earthworms and insects, while the leaching of microplastics can harm wildlife.
"I wrote to Swansea Council, in my region, about this issue after being alerted to the fact that artificial grass had been used in the city regeneration work. They answered saying that this would not be used by the council in the public realm, even on a temporary basis, going forward. I urged the Welsh Government to follow the good example of Swansea Council, and am now glad that the Minister has, in response to my question, committed to exploring the introduction of a wider ban in Wales."