Worthing Borough Council allowed Japanese knotweed growth despite warnings to households (From The Argus)
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Worthing Borough Council allowed Japanese knotweed growth despite warnings to households
For years they have ticked off householders for not tackling the root of the problem.
But town hall chiefs have been left embarrassed after allowing an invasive – and potentially dangerous – weed to take over public land.
Concerned residents have contacted Worthing Borough Council after giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed were spotted on its land.
But despite both carrying a hazard warning and the government making it an offence to grow it, the local authority has so far failed to act.
John Clarke, who lives in the Gaisford, said: “I have brought it to their attention several times but still nothing has been done.”
Mr Clarke said he had spotted the weed on the councilowned Chesswood allotments in Pages Lane. He also has pictures of giant hogweed growing nearby to the north of the railway line.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 makes it an offence to plant or cause hogweed and knotweed to be grown in the wild.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), both are invasive species which are “widely recognised as the second biggest threat to biodiversity worldwide”.
Defra said contact with hogweed, which has a reddish stem and can reach heights of up to five metres, can give humans severe blistering and scarring.
While not as dangerous as its relative, officials said Japanese knotweed can damage concrete, tarmac, flood defences and the stability of river banks.
Mr Clarke said: “Knotweed is not dangerous but if it’s growing on your land it’s near impossible to get planning permission for anything.”
According to the council’s website knotweed is the responsibility of the landowner and is best tackled in co-operation with neighbours.
Ward councillor Alan Rice said: “I raised the issue at the last council meeting with the cabinet member [John Roberts] but he appeared unaware.
It’s a concern as the council is not following its own advice.”
The council did not respond to our request for a comment before we went to press.
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