National Task Force required to deal with Japanese Knotweed

Senator Tim Lombard has called for a national task force to deal with the invasive plants currently causing problems in Ireland.

“Invasive plants, in particular Japanese Knotweed, have become very prevalent in Ireland over the last few years. It is presently a substantial financial and labour-intensive burden that will continue to endure and will only accrue a much larger future obligation if not dealt with now.

“To give an international example of the cost involved, £70 million was required to clear Japanese Knotweed from the Olympic village site in London 2012. Appreciating the magnitude of the issue, the UK today has allocated a national budget of £5 billion per year towards addressing this problem.

“Local authorities in Ireland have struggled to deal with the issue of Japanese Knotweed because the current strategy of all state agencies working individually is not extensive enough to eradicate such invasive plants. A local social housing project, which has the potential to deliver 56 housing units in Beechgrove Clonakilty, has been delayed because invasive plant eradication works are required on site. The resulting financial consequence is high. The estimated cost of construction for the Clonakilty housing project is €8.7 million, which will only increase due to these eradication delays. To save the future cost, which will only increase incrementally the longer it is left, action must be taken now.

“The responsibility of dealing with invasive plants comes under the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht and this issue needs to be dealt with directly by the Department of Environment, which would have the ability to coordinate the local authorities, the NRA, the Inland Fisheries, and Iarnród Éireann in a national task force.

“To gain an understanding of the magnitude of this issue, all local authorities should carry out a survey on all their lands to record the prevalence of invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed. Once the size of the undertaking is known, a national strategy can be put in place to eradicate this issue so that crucial infrastructure projects, such as the Clonakilty housing project, are not delayed in future.”

09 August 2016

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