INVASIVE SPECIES’ growth across Co Clare is continuing but this has not been matched by adequate funding to tackle the issue.
In a motion before Monday’s meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) urged the local authority to “urgently seek adequate funding specifically for the eradication of invasive species, particularly Giant Hog Weed and Japanese Knot Weed, throughout the county before this issue gets completely out of control”.
John Leahy, senior engineer with the roads and transportation department of the County Council in a written reply explained that funding for the eradication of invasive species on the national secondary road network is provided by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII). “Municipal Districts can highlight locations for treatment and provide cost estimates to Roads and Transportation and we will then apply for the requisite funding. At present there is no ringfenced funding for the non-national network. We will raise this funding issue with the Department of Transport”.
Cllr Begley who has regularly highlighted issues pertaining to giant hogweed in South-East Clare told Monday’s meeting, “I don’t want this to sound like its senior engineer bashing day but I’m totally disappointed with the reply. This is more than a roads problem, it is an environmental and a health and safety issue, the growth along the road isn’t just the problem”.
Clonlara based Begley felt an application to secure specific ring-fenced funding to deal with the matter was necessary. “It is not an easy problem, it will take three to five years of concentrated attention to bring it under control. Clare County Council needs to lead on this but it should liaise with Limerick City and County Council, the contact person there is a former employee of Clare County Council”.
Public awareness on the dangers associated with the invasive species is scant, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) flagged. “I know someone who tried to cut this themselves and was left with a permanent burn mark. By cutting it yourself, you don’t know if you are carrying the seeds further down”.
A scheme emerged last year “where the Council was to take over the management of this but it hasn’t progressed, it needs to be looked at as a matter of urgency,” Cllr Joe Garrihy (FG) maintained. Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) admitted he was unaware of the dangers associated with Giant Hogweed. “I am delighted to see this motion on the clár, it can give really nasty burns,” Cllr Mary Howard (FG) said.
Launching a media campaign and a coordinated approach is the first step the Council needs to take, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) insisted. “They need to put in a place an index on where the problem is, while the Council is waiting the fungus is growing and the problem is getting bigger and bigger. These are serious issues put forward by elected members, they need due care and diligence”.
Action is required, Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) agreed, “a stitch in time saves nine, we’ll wait three years until the problem is much worse”. He queried if a GIS map exists on where in Clare invasive species are most prevalent.
Concluding the debate, Cllr Begley remarked, “Japanese knotweed a health hazard to buildings, giant hogweed a health hazard for humans”. He added, “This won’t be cheap but in the interest of the whole population it needs to be tackled”.