FENLAND: Horticultural expert discovers the invasive Japanese Knotweed

Story by: MAGGIE GIBSON FENLAND roads, underground pipe and cable systems, and even homes could be at risk from damage by the aggressive and invasive Japanese Knotweed. Horticultural expert Alan Lay spotted the gardener s worst nightmare in Wisbech near t

Story by: MAGGIE GIBSON

FENLAND roads, underground pipe and cable systems, and even homes could be at risk from damage by the aggressive and invasive Japanese Knotweed.

Horticultural expert Alan Lay spotted the gardener's worst nightmare in Wisbech near to the town's Tesco store. He says regulations must be tightened in a bid to limit the spread of the weed.

He said: "It is uncontrollable and so aggressive that the damage it can do is unbelievable."


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Mr Lay of Beatrice Road, Wisbech, first spotted the weed several weeks ago, but when he returned with our photographer it had already spread a considerable distance under a hedge and along the roadside.

He said: "The problem has recently been featured on the BBC's Alien Invaders. This weed can break up concrete and destroy walls, once it gets a hold there is nothing you can do about it.

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"Minimum control is possible but it takes three solid years. The soil has to be covered with thick tarpaulin so it gets no daylight and treated with poison every three months."

The weed is resistant to weed killers and cutting down the shoots only makes it grow more quickly.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to cause Japanese Knotweed to grow in the wild. The weed is also classed as 'controlled waste' under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 which requires disposal at licensed landfill sites.

But Mr Lay says people include it with their normal household rubbish because they have no idea what it is or the dangers involved. Also people who run rubbish tips are often unaware of what the weed looks like or what it can do.

He said: "It is easily recognisable and the leaves are similar to those of a lime tree. The stems look like bamboo and the stalk of each leaf is a reddish colour. It could become a major problem in Fenland because nothing stops it.

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