A knotty problem is being tackled on the Earn this month. The river’s banks are being assaulted by one of the worst invasions of Japanese Knotweed in Britain.
Specialist weedbusters have been called in to help eradicate the non-native species, which can reach heights of four metres in each growing season.
The prolific plant’s invasive root system and strong growth also endangers native flora and wildlife as well as damaging flood defences.
David Young and Andy Young of Complete Weed Control are currently working between Comrie and Crieff spraying the monster plants.
“We’ve worked a lot in the last few years including on the River Wye in Wales and this area is one of the worst,” said David. “It’s like a jungle. Knotweed is like the tip of an iceberg. Not only is it massive above, the root system is a problem. It’s really extensive.” This is the third year of spraying and the area from Loch Earn to Strowan has already been done. The pair have an immense task and it will take a few years before Strathearn’s banks are completely knotweed free.
The chemical spray used is highly effective, however, and is less toxic than shampoo so is harmless to animals.
The mammoth job in the Crieff/Comrie area should take the pair around 10 days but it’s going to be an ongoing project. David added: “We want to educate people that we are doing something about the problem but there is no quick fix.
“The main aim is to stop the spread of this invasive species; improve bank stability; improve access for fishing and river sports and encourage local and native biodiversity.”
Local fisheries manager John Young is coordinating the project. He said: “This is being funded by the River Earn Improvement Association and the Tay Foundation. Knotweed has been a massive problem for over 20 years. Eradication will be beneficial all round. Anyone wishing to help can either contact me directly on 07970274236 or go to the River Earn Improvement Association website.”