A NEWTOWNABBEY man has called on government departments to do more to tackle the growing problem of Japanese Knotweed - a non-native and invasive species of plant which can cause structural damage to property.
Bruslee resident Sammy Millar contacted the Times this week to raise concerns about the spread of the weed along the sides of the A8 road, just yards from his home and neighbouring properties.
Over the past few years the Knotweed, which is notoriously difficult to control, has been growing out from the hedgerows and verges along the busy Larne - Belfast commuter route. The rampant plant is now around 8ft high, and at the height of summer can spread over the footpaths along the side of the road.
Mr Millar claimed that when Roads Service staff come to cut the grass verges outside his home, they have, on occasion, inadvertently cut the Knotweed - something that can cause the plant to spread.
“It’s an absolute menace,” Mr Millar told the Times. “It’s already in our field and along both sides of the road, but we don’t want it spreading into the garden. Something needs to be done about it.
“The longer it is left growing and the more it gets cut the more it spreads and the worse the problem gets.”
Mr Millar, who is a keen gardener, has already raised his concerns with DRD Roads Service, the Department of the Environment and local political representatives. He has called on the relevant departments to do more to tackle the Knotweed problem, including undertaking regular spraying using a special herbicide to control the growth of the weed at Bruslee.
Responding to Mr Millar’s concerns, a Roads Service spokeswoman said that the department takes the problem of Japanese Knotweed very seriously.
“Plans are under way to treat Japanese Knotweed on the A8 and its verges. This has been done annually for the last number of years and treatment will begin again very shortly,” she said.
A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) added: “We would advise anyone who sees Japanese Knotweed on verges located alongside public roads (that belong to Roads Service) to contact their local Roads Service depot with the location details.”
Read the full story in this week’s Times...