In answer to a parliamentary question he said there were “no plans to attempt a national eradication of Japanese knotweed.” He stated it was because the cost, using current techniques, would be prohibitively expensive – estimated to be at least £1.5 billion – and likely to be unsuccessful given the plant’s widespread distribution.
He went on to say “However, since 2011, Defra has provided grant aid to several local action groups throughout England to reduce or eradicate invasive non-native species locally, including Japanese knotweed. He said Defra was also funding research to make a bio-control agent – a Japanese bred insect – available to control the plant, and had identified the psyllid, Aphalara itadori.
But Mr Eustice had to report: “To date that research has not shown significant or sustainable impacts, because only small populations of the psyllid have survived in the wild. However, a new release programme is being undertaken this summer in riparian areas where humidity is higher, utilising local action groups to aid release”.
He reminded MPs that the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, was also available for use by local authorities to control or prevent the growth of Japanese knotweed where they are satisfied that there is a case to do so. Fines of up to £2,500 can be imposed. Japanese knotweed is extremely fast-growing and can cause extensive damage to property by penetrating foundations, drains, brick walls and concrete.
Read the full Western Morning News article here