There has been a real flurry of activity recently over a ‘Government spokesman’ saying that they had ‘given up’ in the fight against Japanese Knotweed (JK)….given up? …when did they even start?
I must have missed the bit when the Environment Agency were tasked with ridding the world of Japanese Knotweed and it was number one on their ‘hit list’. The truth is the Government have NEVER had an effective policy to fight JK. They had the opportunity probably about 40 years ago – when the JK invasion was in its infancy and the ‘establishment’ phase of the invasion was just starting – they could have introduced legislation to outlaw any new stands of JK that appeared and just stamped it out*.
Instead of heeding the advice from concerned individuals they ignored the problem until 1981 when the ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act’ was introduced where under ‘schedule 9’ it was made illegal to … ‘plant or otherwise cause Japanese Knotweed to grow in the wild’. Here was a key point in the history of Japanese Knotweeds growth and spread in the United Kingdom. Had the legislation at that point made it illegal to allow landowners to have knotweed growing …on their land ….then maybe we wouldn’t all be in this situation.
Of course I’m simplifying the situation to a point where some minister for the environment simply stamps ‘DECLINED’ on a funding application from somebody lower down the food chain – I’m sure it wasn’t that simple. Maybe in a budget meeting a group of senior Environment Agency staff were discussing finance allocation – and one person said … ‘we are getting a lot of complaints about that Japanese Knotweed’ ….then the next person said … ‘there has been loss of life in a flooding incident in Carlisle’ …and immediately…. everybody (understandably) forgets about the invasive plant problem.
The problem that you have as a minister in charge of allocating budgets – if a NEW problem occurs…you don’t have any budget to deal with it! I am constantly mystified as to how our ‘tax dollar’ gets spent…? A recent article in the Times highlighted £700 million being sent to a charity (all good so far) who fought against AIDS and Malaria (very worthy)….who are building a new headquarters building on the edge of Lake Geneva (highest land values in Switzerland??) and whose staff were all paid in excess of £200,000.00 …( er wtf)…the article went on the point out that the nets provided to help keep out mosquitoes were being used for fishing and that ‘concerns had been raised’ about whether any aid was actually getting to the people that needed it.
Today’s paper highlights £40 million being spent on a children’s charity that has ‘financial irregularities’…illegal immigrants being given bank loans to attend university, houses, hospital care…benefits…. the list just goes on and on…
Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not a complete bastard – and I know that these are not simple issues….BUT ….all I’m saying is how about the odd million being spent on OUR BRITISH environment?
How about the odd million to prevent British children every year being scarred for life by Giant Hogweed?
How about homes for our native plants and animals being provided rather than housing some extended family from Kazakhstan who has no intention of ever doing anything other than helping themselves to our benefits system? I’m just saying…that’s all.
*NB I know it’s not that easy…but it would have been a damn site easier before the plant got so well established