A Glenties Municipal District councillor has described the presence of Japanese knotweed along riverbanks as an “epidemic”, and called on the council to seek government funding to address the problem.
Fianna Fáil Cllr. Seamus Ó Domhnaill said the roads section of Donegal County Council has done a lot of work to address the growth of the invasive plant along the side of roads across the county, but said, “There is a massive onslaught of Japanese knotweed along riverbanks.”
Speaking at the Glenties Municipal District meeting this afternoon, Cllr. Ó Domhnaill said, “It’s an epidemic, what’s going on.”
He said he had been visiting local rivers over the past 10 days and has seen how the invasive species has grown along riverbanks across Cloughaneely and Gaoth Dobhair.
Cllr. Ó Domhnaill called on the council to remind the public of how to deal with knotweed, particularly the problems associated with strimming and cutting knotweed, which enables it to spread.
“Rather than getting rid of it, they’re actually spreading it,” he said. The councillor said he was at a river in Gortahork with a local man and it was impossible to walk along the riverbank.
“That’s the level of knotweed,” he said. He said the plant can also lodge itself in parapet walls of bridges, causing further damage.
Plants along the riverbank cannot be sprayed, because of environmental concerns. Sinn Féin Cllr. Marie Therese Gallagher said that during the council pilot project to address problems of Japanese knotweed in Dungloe, the only way to deal with knotweed along riverbanks was by injecting it.
The work is very time-consuming, she said. Cllr. Gallagher said nearly three-quarters of a day was spent on the work along the river, with two full days spent on the rest of the town.
Cllr. Ó Domhnaill said the council did not have the resources to tackle knotweed on riverbanks, and said the council should ask the department for funding for the work, “so that we can make a sizeable difference”.
The longer it is left, the more it will cost to address, “and the worse the epidemic is going to become,” Cllr. Ó Domhnaill said.