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Allotment holders' fears over invasive Japanese Knotweed
Britain’s most-feared weed has strangled eight allotments to death near Valley Road, Bradford – and now menaces properties only metres away, claims a local councillor.
Japanese Knotweed – a bamboo-like invader which can cause terminal damage to houses – was first spotted at the Queen’s Road B Allotments several years ago.
Bolton and Undercliffe councillor Howard Middleton says as well as ruining good vegetable plots the weed is now worrying nearby householders. He said residents had told him they were worried the knotweed could reach their homes.
“It is just so incredibly invasive – it is very difficult to get rid of,” Coun Middleton said.
“The people who are concerned about this don’t think the Council are taking the problem seriously enough.”
The Knotweed, Fallopia Japonica, has especially tough roots which can penetrate concrete, brickwork and foundations. In severe cases banks have even declined mortgage applications on infested properties.
Coun Middleton said he had spoken to residents near the allotments who worry that if something is not done to tackle the problem, the roots could soon reach their homes.
Bradford Council began treating the allotments two years ago, but says it will take at least another three years of work before the plant is fully removed. Eight of the allotment site’s 50 plots have been rendered unusable by the growth.
Coun Middleton said: “It is a popular allotment site but there are plots we can’t let out.
“Holders are concerned it could spread into their plots.
“I don’t think the Council has grasped the significance of this plant.
“There are houses about 60 yards from the allotments, but we don’t know how invasive the root system of these plants is.”
Retired couple Geoff and Renee Brearley keep a well-tended plot at the Queen’s Road B site and said they were lucky not to have been affected by the Knotweed – yet.
“Some of the plots are absolutely smothered in it though,” said Mr Brearley, of Eccleshill. “It’s a terrible shame because it’s a such a waste of good land.
“The problem is, it’s a devil of a job to kill because the roots go down so deep it would take a digger to get them out,” He said he was unaware of any Council activity to tackle the 6ft high weeds, which are currently full of seeds.
In a response to Coun Middleton’s concerns Coun Andrew Thornton, Bradford’s portfolio holder for environment, said: “It is expected that with treatment over time it will get smaller and more manageable, and the aim is ultimately to eradicate it.
“If properly controlled, it should not pose a threat to neighbouring properties.”
But he admits no survey has been done on the plant roots.
Coun Thornton said: “Dealing with Knotweed is a long term thing. It takes years and years and multiple treatments to get it under control. It is an infestation that isn’t just related to allotments.”
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