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Japanese knotweed found at five sites in Wisbech and Whittlesey

PUBLISHED: 08:52 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:13 04 April 2018

Japanese knotweed has been found growing in Wisbech and Whittlesey. Picture: Bill Darnell

Japanese knotweed has been found growing in Wisbech and Whittlesey. Picture: Bill Darnell

A council has declared war on Britain’s most invasive plant.

Fenland council has drafted in contractor Invasive Vegetation Management (IVM) to start a two-year treatment programme to remove Japanese knotweed from five sites it owns in Wisbech and Whittlesey.

It comes as the authority urges residents to remain vigilant to the fast-growing weed, described by the Environment Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”, as it awakens from its winter hibernation.

The recent cold snap has delayed its growing season. But as the warmer spring weather arrives homeowners should look out for red or purple asparagus-like shoots beginning to emerge from the ground. The shoots quickly turn into green bamboo-like stems and grow rapidly - reaching up to three metres by June.

Although at first glance Japanese knotweed may seem to be a relatively harmless plant, it can grow through brickwork and concrete and into drains, causing serious structural damage.

Responsibility for controlling it rests with the landowner or occupier of the land.

Now IVM has begun treating it at five sites - Petts Close, Prince of Wales Close, West Street Car Park, and Wisbech Port in Wisbech, and the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey.

The firm will be using a specialised herbicide system during the 2018 and 2019 growing season to eradicate the plant, followed by a two-year monitoring period. Following the monitoring period, the eradication will be guaranteed for 10 years.

Professional treatment is recommended as even very small fragments of root can become new plants.

Also, if you are trying to sell your house or raise a mortgage, lenders usually require evidence of treatment programme with a 10-year insurance backed guarantee.

Peter Murphy, Fenland’s portfolio Holder for the environment, said: “Japanese knotweed is a really aggressive plant which can cause serious damage and have major consequences for property sellers and buyers.

“The council takes its responsibility of its land and open spaces seriously and is now working with IVM to eradicate the plant on its land and help stop it spreading in the district.”

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