A rural community in north-east Cork faces serious traffic disruption if an invasive plant, spreading throughout the county like wildfire, has caused structural damage to a road bridge.
County council engineers are to carry out a detailed structural assessment of the crossing over the River Bride at Bridesbridge/Castlelyons after being alerted to growths of Japanese knotweed underneath the bridge.
A meeting of the council’s Fermoy/Charleville municipal district was informed by county council senior executive engineer Brendan O’Gorman that his staff would survey the bridge and report back to councillors.
He was replying to a query from Independent councillor June Murphy who said she was very concerned about the presence of the plant which has been known to demolish houses and other concrete structures.
She said any damage and closure of the bridge, for any period of time for repairs, could lead to 20km detours for people going to work, parents dropping children to school, and farmers visiting their local co-op.
The public would be forced to use other bridge crossings in the villages of Conna and Rathcormac.
Ms Murphy said she sincerely hoped a worst-case scenario did not materialise, but added she was very concerned about the spread of the plant and the serious effects it could have on property. She said she was also anxious about the risk of the species spreading downstream to plague other communities, as even a sliver of knotweed can regenerate itself into a plant within a matter of days.
In Britain, finance providers are refusing to give mortgages to people seeking to acquire houses in areas where Japanese knotweed was present.
Mr O’Gorman said council officials were presently mapping all areas in the entire county where the invasive plant had been reported.
Recently, senior officials in the local authority conceded they did not have the resources to combat the plants’ growing grip on Cork and would need financial help from central government to eradicate it.
“When an appropriate funding stream from central government becomes available, a countywide response may be undertaken,” said Mr O’Gorman, adding that all private landowners were “duty-bound” to prevent the spread of the plant.
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