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Fears for homes as invasive weed infests Aldershot pavement

The authorities have yet to take action to remove more than 20ft of Japanese knotweed found growing in the street.

Neighbours Jacqui Watt and Martin Mosley, with Martin's son Zak, next to a Japanese knotweed plant outside their homes in St Benedict's Close, Aldershot

An invasive plant that can penetrate brickwork and destroy buildings is worrying residents in Aldershot, who are unhappy that no action has been taken to destroy it growing near their homes.

A Japanese knotweed plant was identified growing next to the pavement in St Benedict’s Close last month, but despite neighbours bringing it to the attention of the local authorities, it continues to flourish weeks later.

Japanese knotweed is fast-growing and can spread its roots more than 20ft horizontally and 10ft deep, making it extremely difficult to remove.

It can penetrate pavement and foundations and a search for the plant species is undertaken during property purchases, as its presence is deemed so serious it can nullify mortgage offers.

Jacqui Watt, who lives close to the plant, has been in contact with Rushmoor Borough Council, Hampshire County Council and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), but is yet to be informed of who is responsible for its removal.

Another plant has been spotted in the back garden of a neighbouring house, which is rented, prompting fears it is already invading a wider area.

“If it’s in your property then it’s your responsibility, but if it’s come from another property then I think that’s really mean,” she said.

“I worry about coming down one morning and seeing it in the living room.

“It can burrow through brickwork like butter.”

Japanese knotweed is identifiable by its hollow stems, resembling bamboo or rhubarb, and its broad, oval, green leaves and thin white flowers.

It crowds out other plants, is tolerant of most soil types and can survive temperatures of as low as -35 degrees Celcius.

It is resilient to cutting and strong chemicals are required to destroy the roots.

Mrs Watt was told by Defra that there is no statutory obligation on landowners to control the plant if it is on their land, but allowing it to grow in the wild, and potentially spread into neighbouring properties, is an offence.

Martin Mosley, who also lives near the plant, said it had been growing there for some time but it was only recently that he identified it as Japanese knotweed.

“It is concerning,” he said.

“We were trying to sell our house and we had to tell our solicitors.

“We were asked about it so I researched it and realised exactly where I had seen it before.

“It grows at an absolute rate of knots.”

At the time of writing, it remains unclear which authority owned the land on which the plant is growing, but investigations are continuing.

 

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