REAL concern about the spread of giant hogweed in south east Clare was voiced at the July meeting of Shannon Municipal District councillors, writes Owen Ryan.
Councillor Michael Begley requested a “comprehensive programme” to eradicate it in the Clonlara, Mountcatherine and Gilloge areas, which would include both public and private lands.
He said that there is a lot of frustration with how it is being dealt with, and that there is much if not more of it on private, rather than public lands.
“We need a programme urgently,” he claimed.
Councillor Begley said it is very important to get it at the right time of the year, and that changes to weed killers mean that more frequent treatment is required in the early stages of growth.
He said that this year nearly all of the hogweed in the area had come to seed, and that if even one percent of what had come to seed came to root, the situation would become far worse.
Sinn Féin’s Donna McGettigan said she had met a local resident suffering from burns, as they had tried to remove it, indicating how dangerous the hogweed can be.
Councillor Begley said it is important that the public do not become involved in attempting to clear it.
“There are a lot of things that the community can help with, but this is not one.”
In a report to the meeting Senior Executive Engineer Tom Mellett said that attempts are being made to get on top of the issue.
“The District Office in co-operation with the Council’s Heritage Officer have received funding of €10,000 from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage to advance an invasive species eradication programme in the South East Clare area focusing on the Blackwater River and Erinagh Canal.
“This funding will allow for treatment on both public and private property.
“To this end we have requested land ownership details from the Land Registry Office. It is the District Office’s intention to issue letters to each property owner next week.
“In addition to this the Office has engaged a contractor to treat Giant Hogweed along the public road verges in the Clonlara/Parteen area. Two periods of treatment have taken place so far this year.”
Giant hogweed can grow to a very large height, and it can out compete more desirable plants when it comes to space and resources.
“It can be very harmful to human health, and its sap causes severe burns.