400 sites in Cork ‘seriously infested’ with knotweed

More than 400 roadside sites in Co Cork have been identified as having serious infestation of an invasive plant.

However, Cork County Council has a limited budget to deal with the increasing problem of Japanese knotweed and, furthermore, cannot enter private land for the purpose of checking.

The council is to write to the Department of the Environment seeking more funds for its eradication and also to the Department of Agriculture seeking its assistance in identifying farms where infestation may also be occurring.

Members of the council’s Northern Division made the decision after being told there were 105 roadside locations, locally, identified as knotweed growth.

Senior council engineer Aidan Weir said 88 of the sites had received ‘year one’ treatment as part of a three-year programme to destroy the plant. The rest will be treated in the autumn.

He said a lot of locations were on the N20, N72, and N73 and ‘Do Not Cut’ signs had been erected at most locations.

“The Duhallow region is particularly badly infested,” he said. “IRD Duhallow and some community groups have also undertaken treatment measures.”

He said the council also had to combat other invasive plants, such as Himalayan balsam and giant rhubarb.

Mr Weir said the council was having difficulties in eradicating such plants as it can only treat them on public roads and not on private land.

In particular, he said, rivers can cause the spread of knotweed, pointing out the Curraheen River in Cork was particularly badly hit.

“Treating the area inside roadside fences and along streams, which are landowners’ responsibilities, are matters that needs to be addressed.”

He said the council was restricted by limited resources.

Councillor Ian Doyle, who had sought a report on the matter, said it was a serious issue and they needed a multi-agency approach.

Councillors Tim Collins and Frank O’Flynn said it was obvious central government had to contribute money to help local authorities tackle the issue.

Mr Weir said hedge cutting had probably been responsible for the spread of Japanese knotweed, as many people did not realise how dangerous the weed was and how easily it could regrow, even from tiny slivers.

The county council, meanwhile, has set up a special committee to devise a corporate policy to deal with invasive alien species.

The committee, to date, has met five times.

A draft report is nearing completion and recommendations are due before a meeting of the full council in the autumn.

In the meantime, councillors in North Cork are writing to the two departments to outline their concerns about the growing problem.

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