DUNBLANE Community Council have called for urgent action to be taken to tackle dangerous Giant Hogweed infestations. Last week the Herald reported of how a 3-year-old toddler received scarring after coming into contact with the plant whilst walking along the banks of the Allanwater. However a large amount of Giant Hogweed situated in the Laighills area is still to be dealt with.
Chairman of Dunblane Community Council Terence O'Byrne said: "The community council is sick and tired of debating the issue of Giant Hogweed every year with little resulting action from Stirling Council. We requested that the Hogweed growing along the public footpath from Ramoyle to Ashfield through the Laighills be sprayed at our meeting in May this year.
"The council have stated that the areas identified will be sprayed this week. This is too little too late, I notice that the same council sprayed the grass/weeds along the footpath from Bridge of Allan to Dunblane a few weeks ago which must have been assigned a higher priority than the very dangerous Hogweed in the Laighills, this is simply not good enough and the community council will do its best to ensure that the council is more pro-active next year.
"The photo in this article was taken on the path through the Laighills, the main infestation is 450m from the start of the path at the footbridge crossing the burn at the Ramoyle end.
"I urge all parents to make themselves aware of what these plants look like and get their children to avoid them like the plague before a youngster gets injured like the 3 year old in Bridge of Allan a couple of weeks ago. These plants are dangerous."
A spokesperson from Stirling Council said: "In general, the council treats all publicly accessible council-owned land for non-native invasive plants such as Giant Hogweed as best we can given the scale and often difficult locations of these plants. It is important to stress the responsibility of all landowners and garden owners to ensure these plants do not spread or cause a danger by spraying them with Glyphosate where they occur. The council has very limited powers to ensure landowners take responsibility for the control of these invasive species on private land.
"This is a significant problem for which SEPA, SNH, Marine Scotland and Forestry Commission have overall responsibility.
"In response to the concerns raised by Dunblane Community Council, Stirling Council's Fisheries Team will carry out, over the next two weeks, spot treatments of the areas next to paths identified by the community council.
"This is a one-off approach that will not include additional areas that are out with path edges as it is not the responsibility of the Council to treat Giant Hogweed on private land.
"Locally Forth District Fisheries Trust has recently prepared a bio-security plan to address the issue over the next five years, for which Stirling Council has allocated £13,500 per annum, in addition to the council treating non-native species on council-owned land.
"The project is also supported by the Allan Water Angling Association, who has provided volunteers to treat the upper reaches of the Allan Water.
"This will require enhanced land owner and public awareness of the issues raised by non-native invasive species and in particular those that could cause a danger to the public such as the Giant Hogweed Plant whose sap causes blisters to the skin which often remain sunlight sensitive.
"In the past Stirling and Clackmannanshire Environment Trust also provided some funding and management to tackle Giant Hogweed on some stretches of the Allan Water and River Forth."
Mark Ruskell, Green Councillor for Dunblane & Bridge of Allan added: "There are acres of hogweed on private land at the head of the Allanwater near Greenloaning, which result in seeds spreading every year down to Dunblane and beyond. Thankfully, Forth Fisheries Trust are starting to get to grips with this area to prevent the spread, but there needs to be a balance between this longer term eradication work and the treatment of smaller outbreaks on private land next to paths.
"I have been assured by both the council and Forth Fisheries Trust that there will be an opportunity to plan ahead for next year's treatment programmes with the full involvement of the community to make sure that all the bases are covered."