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Cork social housing project delayed over Japanese knotweed

Minister Humphreys says it’s not a matter for her department.

Image: Shutterstock/Manfred Ruckszio

A SOCIAL HOUSING project in Cork has been delayed because of the invasive plant Japanese knotweed.

The plant can seriously damage houses and buildings and is classified as one of the top 100 worst invasive species worldwide.

Eradication works are required on the site where 56 housing units are being built in Beechgrove, Clonakilty.

Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard is calling for a national taskforce to deal with the situation, saying the responsibility of dealing with invasive plants comes under the Department of Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts and the Gaeltacht.

However, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys says it’s not a matter for her department:

In general, control of invasive species such as Japanese knotweed is a matter for landowners.

Pointing out the financial effect that these plants can have, Lombard said, ”The estimated cost of construction for the Clonakilty housing project is €8.7 million, which will only increase due to these delays.

The spread of this plant can result in a substantial financial and labour-intensive burden, and we must deal with it now before the problem becomes worse.

Lombard added that the current strategy of all state agencies working individually is not extensive enough to eradicate these invasive plants.

But the Minister said, “My Department carries out considerable work on control of [invasive] species in National Parks and Nature Reserves – for example, work undertaken over many years to deal with the rhododendron threat in Killarney National Park.

My Department does not, however, have the resources required to extend such work into the wider countryside or urban areas and is not in a position to provide dedicated funds for such work to other bodies.

Lombard wants to see local authorities carrying out surveys on their lands to record the prevalence of invasive plants so a national strategy can be put in place to eradicate Japanese Knotweed.

In a statement the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs told TheJournal.ie, “There is no national eradication programme for Japanese knotweed currently and this Department is not involved in any eradication or control measures in respect of this species at the moment.”

Read: Invasive species cost Ireland €261 million per year>

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