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Dossier calls for action from Fenland District Council on Japanese knotweed

Alan Lay with a bush of Japanese knotweed that is growing along Old Lynn Road in Wisbech and has spread to neighbouring gardens.
Alan Lay with a bush of Japanese knotweed that is growing along Old Lynn Road in Wisbech and has spread to neighbouring gardens.

A 22-page dossier on the menace of Japanese Knotweed in Wisbech is set to be presented to Fenland District Council with a call for urgent action attached.

Alan and Brenda Lay, who have years of experience as landscape gardeners, have compiled the report explaining why the district council needs to act on the growing problem of the weed, especially in Wisbech.

The Lays have become experts in knotweed over the years and say if Fenland fails to act now then there is trouble ahead for the area’s infrastructure and even housing developments.

They are even prepared to hold local seminars so developers and householders can learn more about the dangers of the plant, how to identify it and what action should be taken to destroy it.

“Just a piece of stem the size of a finger nail discarded on the compost heap is enough for the plant to regrow. For every stem you cut down, two will grow back, it really is a most prolific plant” said Mrs Lay.

Brenda and Alan Lay have been calling on Fenland District Council to take the threat seriously and claim the authority is failing in its duty of care.

Alan would like Fenland to follow the lead of other local authorities like Swansea Borough which has made the presence of Japanese Knotweed a planning consideration.

Mr Lay has identified the plant, which was brought over from Japan in the 19th century as a hot house flower, currently growing on a building site in Norwich Road, Wisbech.

“Shoots of the knotweed can be clearly seen,” said Mr Lay, who was due to meet with the builder yesterday (Tuesday) to talk about the problem.

“It really is not a case of just cutting it down and it has gone. It will just keep coming back, and it can destroy foundations. It can grow through concrete, asphalt – it is a real menace. The only way to deal with it is to spray it for at least three years in a row.

“What worries me is unless Fenland Council take this seriously now then they could be storing up problems for the future and then it is going to cost millions to put right the damage caused. That is what happened in Swansea and that is why they take it so seriously.

“I have sent pictures of the plant growing in various sites in Wisbech to the council and all the reply I seem to get is ‘it is not on our land’ – that is not good enough. It is a worry for everyone and the council must start taking responsibility.”

Coun Virginia Bucknor will present a 22-page dossier compiled by the Wisbech couple to tomorrow’s council meeting. She agrees it is time for action.

“This is not the imaginings of an 80-year-old man, this a real issue. The Lays have years of experience, which the council should recognise and take note of,” she said.

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