Saturday 18 November 2017 02:40:45 AM

Wide Concern As Japanese Knotweed Invades Bryansford
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THERE are many invasive species of plants and animals in Ireland and one giving concern recently is the spread of the Japanese Knotweed.

Newcastle Councillors Carmel O’Boyle and Desmond Patterson met with a Council Environmental officer in Newcastle on Wednesday (14 August) to see at first hand the extent of the Japanese Knotweed problem along the Bryansford Road.

Councillor Carmel O'Boyle, Chair of the xxx Committeeand desmond Patterson, Chaor o fteh Estates Committee, look over the Japanese Knotweed invading the river at Bryansford.

Councillor Carmel O’Boyle, Chair of the Recreation and Community Services,  Committee, and Desmond Patterson, Chair of the Estates Committee, look over the Japanese Knotweed invading the river at Bryansford.

Following the meeting, Councillor O’Boyle said: “I am afraid that our Environmental officer was shocked at the extent of the problem on one site in particular, on the land adjacent to the Tullybrannigan River. The weed has invaded a waste area and has now vigorously invaded and is colonising the whole of the river bank.

“It has also appeared at a strip of land further along the road and is spreading rapidly. If something is not done as a matter of urgency, there is a real danger that this species will undermine the river, reduce the capacity of channels and carry flood water and could even damage our flood defence structures. In Newcastle we must always ensure that nothing happens to increase the risk of flooding in our town. The best time of year to begin a spraying programme is September, so the window of opportunity is small for us, if we are to tackle the problem this year.”

Councillor Patterson added: “We are in the process of identifying the owners of the areas affected in order to work in partnership with them to ensure that this invasive, non-native species is eradicated. This weed must not be cut as it will cause further rapid contamination. We have agreed with our Council officer to draw up a Management Plan to include frameworks for planned clearance and repeated treatments. As Chair of the Estates Management Committee, I will make this a priority for our committee this year.”

Councillor O’Boyle further added: “As this weed is so profuse along the river bank, great care must be taken to use environmentally approved treatments in order to protect the watercourse, so this could entail at least three years of repeat treatments. We intend to invite representatives from Invasive Species Ireland and NIEA to advise us on the eradication of Japanese Knotweed from our district.

“This weed is regarded as one of the world’s worse invasive alien species. It is so serious a problem that we need our MLA’s to address this in the Assembly and to bring forward a Bill to place a duty of care on all landowners and waste producers to ensure that Japanese Knotweed is controlled on their land and disposed of at a licensed landfill site.”