A VOLUNTEER guide has said it is time for a council to “be held accountable” for the way it manages an historic site.

John Roberts said he believes mechanical cutting and the use of weed killer by Buckinghamshire County Council at Whiteleaf Hill near Princes Risborough should be shunned for “the more traditional and effective way” of grazing.

He said Wycombe District Council graze sheep during the winter months at Brush Hill Nature Reserve which has brought wild flowers and butterflies back to the area. He said BCC also graze ponies at Coombe Hill.

Mr Roberts, who is a volunteer for national trails, added: “I do think they should be held accountable for what they are doing at the moment on Whiteleaf Hill. Particularly as they are using a rather debatable weed killer.”

He said BCC is using a weedkiller which creates “super weeds” and asked “why such a dubious chemical has to be employed when, nearby, the success of grazing is apparent under similar ecological conditions.”

Graham Winwright, head of planning, environment and development, said their ultimate objective is to graze animals at Whiteleaf. He said: “However, before bringing any animals on site, we obviously have to consider their welfare and care and for a number of reasons - fencing being just one - grazing is not a viable alternative for us at the moment.”

He added that in the meantime the use of that particular weedkiller was "assessed by trained and qualified technicians as the most appropriate solution in this instance taking account of the level of weed infestation, weather conditions and the dry and elevated nature of the site."

He said that when the substance was used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions the weedkiller "can be used with confidence in areas open to the public and animals and does not present undue risk to health or the environment. Manufacturer's instructions were followed.

"A warning sign was placed on site prior to, during and for a period after the spraying."