Aerial spraying of herbicides over parts of the Illawarra this month has been called off, and will "probably" not occur this year, following community uproar.
The Illawarra Shoalhaven Joint Organisation (ISJO) of councils planned to conduct the spraying later this month at sites including Perkins Beach, Coniston Beach, Hill 60 and Bass Point, as well as land in Gerringong, to combat the pest bitou bush.
This would involve herbicides RoundUp and Brush-Off. But at a special meeting on Friday the ISJO decided to engage an external expert to reconsider its weed suppression measures.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery, who chairs the ISJO, said the results of the review would be made public.
"The community have made their concerns regarding the use of herbicides to manage bitou bush in their communities clear," he said.
"That is why I want to reassure everyone in our community that it's probable the aerial spraying program will not be taking place this calendar year.
"What we will be doing is engaging an external weeds specialist to undertake an independent review of all accepted control measures for bitou bush management, taking into account the unique landscape of the Illawarra's coastline where the incidence of bitou bush occurs adjacent to marine and urban environments."
The best time for spraying bitou bush is winter, meaning it is unlikely spraying would occur this year even if the expert gave the go-ahead, because of the time the review will take.
The ISJO said it needed to consider how to balance legal obligations to control bitou bush, with concerns raised by the community.
RoundUp (glyphosate) is classed by the Australian Pesticide and Veterinary Management Authority as safe to use. But the World Health Organisation's cancer agency found it is "probably" carcinogenic.
Several councils around Australia have banned or reconsidered their use of glyphosate in the wake of three US court rulings in favour of cancer patients who blamed glyphosate for their terminal illnesses.