Council admits contributing to spread of knotweed

Cork County Council has admitted to an embarrassing gaffe — contributing to an outbreak of Japanese knotweed near a beach.

Pockets of the deadly weed can be seen thriving within and outside a council-managed compound adjacent to Ballywilling beach near Garryvoe in east Cork.

Locals living near the beach are calling on Cork County Council to take action.

A locally-based environmental officer for Ballymacoda-Ladysbridge Community Council, John O’Brien, said residents first noticed the weed “over a month ago” and reported it the local authority. 

He claimed the council appears to have taken little or no action to address the matter.

However, the council said continued monitoring and treatment at the site will be carried out through to eradication of the invasive weed.

It emerged river cleaning works at Castlemartyr, about 9km away from the current site, had led to material, such as river silt, being removed to the compound at Ballywilling.

According to Mr O’Brien, the river debris was “tipped out of the trailer and left on the surface”. 

Later attempts included digging out a massive lagoon and layering it with plastic membrane before burying the knotweed under topsoil, he claimed.

“The knotweed is now leaking through and has spread outside the compound,” said Mr O’Brien.

The council said a rainfall event on October 19 last year resulted in a larger-than-expected flood issue in the Kilta River and the event impacted on a number of properties at Mogeely Rd, Castemartyr.

“Investigation determined a section of the river downstream of the bridge had become narrowed and silted up,” said a council source. “River cleaning works were carried out on an emergency basis on this section in the following days so as to restore the capacity of the river channel.

“Material removed largely consisted of river silt and was brought to the council’s licensed landfill site at Ballywilling. As knotweed contamination was probably due to knotweed being present on the river bank, the material has been isolated in a separate fenced off and lined zone within the landfill site. The area has been monitored.

“In recent examinations, a small number of emerging knotweed shoots were observed. Any knotweed emerging is being treated by a specialist weed control contractor to eradicate any knotweed that may be present.”

The council said knotweed along the N25 in east Cork had been treated successfully.

A treatment programme for knotweed along the left bank of the Kilta River below the bridge in Castlemartyr is commencing, along with a similar programme on the Whitegate Road, the council said.

“Site investigations under the Midleton Flood Relief Scheme has identified approximately 20 knotweed locations and these are being treated to eradication in advance of the main scheme.”


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