Kerry should “declare war” on Japanese knotweed, a council meeting in Tralee has been told.
The invasive species is now out of control in the southwest, and is rampant along major river banks, roads and town centre sites across the region.
A knotweed survey as a condition of planning permission, which would be in line with Britain, is needed, it has been claimed.
Specialised units are being trained to deal with it in public areas in Kerry and their remit should extend to private property, the monthly meeting of the county council was told. The Killarney National Park, a Unesco biosphere reserve was hosting the destructive weed which overcomes other species. Growing through cracks and tarmac, concrete and road surfaces, even tiny fragments of the knotweed (Fallopia japonica) can cause it to spread, it was claimed.
It is “a major hazard to the built environment”, director of operations Charlie O’Sullivan said in a report.
While national roads in the county are being treated, hedge cutting on minor roads by landowners actually spread the knotweed, the meeting heard.
Fianna Fáil councillor Michael Cahill asked the council to “declare war” and put a proper budget in place to tackle it.
“Will the council consider amending the county development plan to include an invasive weed survey as a condition of planning similar to the UK, and other countries,” Mr Cahill asked.
“Most people don’t know what knotweed looks like.”
The weed is on both banks of the River Laune and is threatening to choke the well-known salmon and trout river; an old creamery in Lisselton in north Kerry is over-run; and it is along ”the Big River” in Tralee and on Casement’s Avenue and Oakpark House, representatives said.
Sinn Féin councillor Pa Daly called for a unit within the council to tackle knotweed on private land countywide.
Meanwhile, the cost of tackling knotweed is growing: Kerry has set aside €100,000 for knotweed control this year. The Department of Transport has allocated €500,000 to map and treat knotweed on the national road network, it confirmed.
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