Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) (pictured) is one of the most invasive species in the world. Japanese Knotweed is a real thug as it spreads rapidly. The Environment Agency even produce their own knotweed-code-of-practice, and it states: Lack of regrowth is not evidence of eradication. Japanese Knotweed roots can force their way through brick and concrete, and it is difficult and expensive to eradicate them and can make it nigh on impossible to sell homes because lenders will not give mortgages on properties affected by knotweed.
Recently an EIR (the sister to FOI) to Shepway District Council asked if there was Japanese Knotweed on Princes Parade and what steps they had taken to eradicate it between 2006 – 2016, the response SDC gave was:
“The council has not taken any steps to manage, control or eradicate Japanese Knotweed on Princes Parade – the plant has not occurred there during the period mentioned” The period mentioned was 2006 – 2016.
However, an SDC employer, a manager no less stated in 2010 Princes Parade was known to have been infested with Japanese Knotweed in 2009 following a large deposition of canal silt by the Council over the whole site, Oct 2002 – Mar 2003. On 21 Oct 2010 a Statutory Declaration was made by SDC’s employee who, at that time, was working as ‘Contracts Manager Grounds’. The Declaration was sworn in the presence of a Solicitor, and gives an account of how a Japanese Knotweed infestation was discovered and managed in 2009, but not eradicated.
So the EIR is wrong. It demonstrates that SDC’s records management policy, needs a severe overhaul. Or, there is the real possibility that they may have given out the wrong information deliberately. But we’ll give SDC the benefit of the doubt and say it was an oversight on their behalf.
Why does this matter. Well it matters because SDC wish to put a new Leisure Centre/Swimming Pool & up to 150 new homes on the seven hectare site and you can’t sell homes when Japanese Knotweed is known to be on your site. So SDC will have to take steps to manage this, meaning that they’ll have to eradicate the Japanese Knotweed and this can take a minimum of three years according to Mike Clough a Japanes Knotweed specialist.
Tomorrow evening (7/02/17) SDC’s Cabinet will meet at 5pm to discuss Princes Parade. We understand that all members of the Cabinet have been contacted making them aware of the new information regarding Japanese Knotweed being on Princes Parade. What this should mean is that the development is halted until the plant is eradicated. Chemical sprays are not a possibility, as the Royal Miltary Canal is to close, and the chemicals used to eradicate Japanese Knotweed are know to kill to aquatic life, eg plants, fish etc. Disturb it and it just grows more vigorously and from what experts have said to us, is that you only need a 7 gramme piece (which is tiny) left in the soil and it’ll grow again. So SDC have a very knotty problem.
SDC have paid four companies for lots of reports and are currently have a contract with Edwards Harvey a local PR and marketing company to sell the Leisure Centre to us, the residents of Shepway. Over half a million pounds has been spent on developing the plans for Princes Parade, has it all be in vain? We’ll find out very soon.
Finally, in a landmark case Network Rail have been told to pay large sums of money to householders who have been seriously affected by Japanese Knotweed. Network Rail are now considering taking the case to the High Court.