Japanese Knotweed Control Programme

A number of years ago two local residents raised the problem of Japanese Knotweed colonising some large areas of ground especially along the riverbanks. They produced a small leaflet, available in the local library, describing its appearance and the problems it could cause. In 2002 Gatehouse Development Initiative mapped the areas of Knotweed in Council ownership. In 2004, the Community Council obtained an environmental grant and decided to put it towards establishing a project to try to control the Knotweed. This grant was used to obtain match funding from the Landfill Tax Credit scheme, administered by Solway Heritage. The funding was sought to develop an Action Plan, produce awareness raising material and begin a targeted spraying programme.

In 2005, a committee was established to manage and oversee the Japanese Knotweed 5 year Action Plan. The committee was made up of members from the Community Council, Gatehouse of Fleet Development Initiative, and various statutory bodies based in the Dumfries and Galloway region. The programme was Project Managed by Solway Heritage.

The first meeting of the committee took place in January 2005 and agreed a scheme and timetable for the project to follow.

The Fleet Valley National Scenic Area (NSA) Countryside volunteers surveyed a large area of the town and the scenic area and produced a schedule and annotated maps showing the locations and concentrations of the weed. Using this data Solway Heritage produced the Action Plan in June 2005 which included photographs. Of the 25 areas located, 10 were selected as priority areas for treatment. Appropriate licences were obtained from SEPA.

The volunteer team have monitored these 10 areas annually and recorded how effective the spraying programme has been.

The spraying works were tendered and the Community Council entered into a contract with Dumfries & Galloway Council to carry out the herbicide treatment on the 10 selected areas. The plants were sprayed with a glyphosate weed killer (Roundup).

Leaflets were printed and were distributed by the volunteers to all households in the town. It informed residents about why the programme of work was being undertaken and provided advice on how to control Knotweed found in gardens. A seminar was also held for land managers in 2005 to encourage them to undertake control of Knotweed on their land upstream of the town.

Spraying has taken place twice a year since 2005, usually in June and September. To date the four years of spraying has proved very effective and these areas of Knotweed are almost eliminated. The first two years show a dramatic reduction in the density of the weed, however, the spraying does need to continue until such times as the weed can be declared eliminated. It is very persistent and can spring up again in areas where it was assumed to be eliminated. Expert opinion predicts a minimum of five years treatment to eradicate the weed altogether and our experience to date suggests this is a good guide as to the minimum time required.

R Forster, Community Councillor 17th August 2009