Infestation of invasive knotweed now at 'epidemic' proportions across Longford
A rapidly developing invasive plant species is now so prevalent across Longford it is threatening to cause untold damage to the county’s road network.
Japanese knotweed has long been heralded as one of the most menacing weeds to rear its head on the local landscape, so much so its penetrating roots have been observed growing under the foundations of houses, piercing walls and blocking drains.
Its discovery halted the development of a community garden in Longford town in 2016 with environmental experts warning at the time that it’s presence was now commonplace in every town and parish across Co Longford.
Now, it would seem its expanding existence is preventing planning applications from being approved and is even threatening to envelope the region’s already hard-pressed rural road network.
The issue was debated at length at last week’s county council meeting where calls were made for areas where the plant is not being treated by its property owner to be added to the local authority’s Derelict Sites register.
“Although the vast majority of landowners and business owners are very anxious to treat the knotweed, there are still some who are doing nothing and this is affecting neighbouring sites,” said Cllr Paul Ross.
“There are a number of sites where landowners just have absolutely no interest in treating them and this is not fair on adjoining landowners.
“It’s now becoming a planning permission issue where a number of planning applications in the past few months have had issues with knotweed.”
Fianna Fáil’s Joe Flaherty supported those overtures as he told of the “Herculian work” Environment officials within the Council were doing to try and stem its spread.
“A major threat to an already troubled road network,” he said.
“Even with the most professional of treatment systems it can take anything up to between two and three years to eradicate.”
Director of Services John Brannigan said while there were limitations under the Derelict Sites Act to deal with the spectre of knotweed, there was a warning for those who were continuing to ignore its presence.
“People who let it grow on their property can be prosecuted,” he advised.
“But we (County Council) have taken a more proactive approach and educational approach whereby we carry out annual surveys and identify where there is a problem and work with individual landowners.”