Sleep like a baby…. April 16, 2016

It has been pointed out to me on many occasions – that in eradicating Japanese Knotweed – I am in fact destroying the very thing that keeps my business making money. So I am in fact busy putting myself out of business. …or I would be if…everyone in the UK had got their act together…BUT THEY WON’T…

I recently had some information sent through to me about an award winning project involving Sustainable Drainage Systems (or SuDS) – for which the project had won the Queens medal – even though the scheme had been planted with…. Crassula helmsii

Crassula helmsii one of the most invasive aquatic species… IN THE WORLD…

Crassula helmsii which wetland and waterway owners spend countless hours trying to destroy…

Crassula helmsii which is an absolute nightmare to eradicate once it has established…

So not only had somebody cocked up big time in planting Crassula… but then somebody else thought this was so good… it should receive an award. You really couldn’t write this sort of story – nobody would believe that anyone could be so stupid. This is up there with planting Japanese Knotweed on a new housing development which then receives an award for landscape work…

Yet every week I come across situations which convince me that we will never get on top of our UK invasive non-native problem species.

In and around Manchester we have lots of invasive non-native species on our waterways and wetlands. The River Irwell is particularly bad, with long stretches which are swathed in Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan balsam and Giant Hogweed. I would actually say that even given the raised profile of these species – the areas covered with these plants has increased….

I have written to the various landowners and had no response. I have reported these areas to the various statutory bodies and had no response. I have tried to get public opinion on my side and have spoken to local newspapers in an effort to raise the profile and bring these problems to public attention… all to no avail.

Given that we already had huge problems – this has been followed by flooding and vast areas of land covered in water. Water, it should be noted, that is full of knotweed stems and rhizome material, vast quantities of Giant Hogweed seed and literally tonnes of viable Himalayan balsam.

There were one or two articles about Giant hogweed last year due to a young child being badly burnt by the plant’s toxic sap – yet we now have huge areas of land that have been covered in viable plant material which will result in these plants being more prolific.

Why doesn’t anybody get a handle on this?

I live in Glossop – some fifteen years ago I pointed out to the Local Authority that the town had a problem with Invasive Non-Native Species. I even offered to deal with the problem free of charge. Nobody even had the courtesy of responding to my letter.

There are blocks of Japanese Knotweed at every major road coming in to the town. The large chemical plant in the centre of the town has a huge stand at its main entrance – and a vast area of the plant covers both sides of the river.

In the centre of the town – within eyesight of the local planning department – there is a new housing development. Where the new houses were to be built there was a large infestation of Japanese Knotweed. When construction notices were erected I contacted the house-builder and offered to deal with the knotweed infestation – and yet again had no response.

When works started on the new houses the area of JK disappeared over night. I called in to see the site manager and asked – ‘what did you do with the Japanese Knotweed?’ ….

…his response

‘oh… it wasn’t Japanese Knotweed mate – you must have been mistaken…’

This means that the knotweed contaminated material will have been taken off site to a facility not licensed to receive Japanese Knotweed. It will mean that the tip will not bury the plant beneath a capping layer to ensure that it does not spread. It may even mean that the knotweed contaminated material could have been sold as ‘topsoil’ to some unsuspecting development that didn’t have any invasive species.

So whilst I may be acting to destroy my own business I don’t see any evidence that we as a society have got our act together with regards the spread of these problem plants. So I can probably continue to keep busy and not endure any sleepless nights worrying about running out of work.


Mike C.