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How dangerous is Japanese Knotweed to Urmston?

Urmston Meadows, a popular recreation area on the banks of the River Mersey, contains very large quantities of Japanese Knotweed. The plant currently spreads from the Eastern end of Urmston Meadows, close to the Carrington Spur, along the River Mersey and Old Ees Brook as far as the Flixton Mile Road.

A path through the Japanese Knotweed to the River Mersey.

Japanese Knotweed is a particularly invasive species of plant that was introduced to the UK in the 19th century. It grows very vigorously: Each plant can grow to a height of 4-5 metres and can spread up to 6 metres each year. The most common method of spread is by means of stem, crown and rhizome (underground stem) sections. New plants will grow in soil or water from the pieces of green stem.

In the case of Urmston, flooding of the River Mersey can further increase the spread of the Knotweed, hence the very large quantities of the plant currently visible high along the banks of the river and brook.

The Knotweed affects local ecosystems by crowding out native plants and has no natural predators in the UK. Its extensive root system and strong stem growth can also penetrate and damage structures such as concrete foundations, buildings, flood defenses, roads and paving.

For this reason, house buyers may be reluctant to purchase a house with Japanese Knotweed present in its garden. If Japanese knotweed is found to be present on a property, a mortgage provider may also refuse to lend if there is not an adequate plan in place to manage the infestation.

The only way to remove the plant is by the introduction of industrial weedkiller into its large underground network of roots. All above-ground portions of the plant need to be controlled repeatedly for several years in order to weaken and kill the entire patch. Suitable weedkiller is best applied to the plants in early Autumn by specialists.

Japanese Knotweed can be identified by its large, green, shovel/heart-shaped leaves and its long, straight, red/brown stems. It is often found in large clusters that can tower overhead.

It is important that people do not break the stems as this can lead to the plant spreading through transportation on clothes and shoes, and on dogs walked in the area. Once present in your garden it can quickly take over, potentially damaging your buildings and those of your neighbours.

Trafford Liberal Democrat councillors and local Stretford & Urmston Liberal Democrat members are pursuing this issue with AMEY and Trafford Council.

If you discover or have concerns about Japanese Knotweed in the local area, please contact Stretford & Urmston Liberal Democrats via email hello@sandulibdems.org.uk

posted: 24th Jun 2020