By Kieran O’Mahony
COUNCILLORS have been told that the housing project planned for Beechgrove in Clonakilty is proceeding as planned, despite earlier fears that the presence of Japanese knotweed may delay it.
However, the construction of the homes won’t take place until the knotweed issue is dealt with – and this wil take until the end of 2017.
At a recent meeting of the Western Committee in Clonakilty, a Sinn Fein councillor raised a motion calling for a full report from the relevant Council departments regarding the potential delay to the proposed new housing estate in the town.
A report, by Maurice Manning, director of Housing with Cork County Council, said that in 2015 the Council identified the presence of Japanese knotweed in a number of small pockets in temporary imported fill associated with the temporary Roads Depot storage areas.
It also outlined that the Council immediately planned and commenced a structured eradication programme, which is ‘continuing in 2016 and will be completed in the autumn of 2017 prior to planned site operations.’
It said the project design team for the proposed housing development at Beechgrove will have in place a construction environmental management plan, which will incorporate an ‘invasive plant species survey’.
The report also added that a full-time ecological clerk of works will be employed at the relevant time to monitor and oversee ground works operations.
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said reports about the presence of the invasive species in Beechgrove had caused confusion among councillors and the general public.
‘It’s too important to be delayed any more and I’m delighted that the proposed works are going ahead as planned,’ said Cllr Hayes.
Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said the problem of Japanese knotweed is getting out of hand.
‘It’s disrupting projects and we recently walked around Skibbereen and pinpointed 13 to 14 sites affected by the plant, so it’s certainly a crisis,’ said Cllr Carroll.
Cllr Carroll pointed out that a company in Dublin that deals with Japanese knotweed and works with other councils had contacted him about wanting to make a presentation to Cork County Council on their services.
‘Anything we can do should be done and this potential presentation would be for the good of the country,’ added Cllr Carroll.
However, Council official Mac Dara O’hIci said that any solution to this problem would have to go through a procurement process and that a company could not just come in and make a presentation.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said there is an issue with Japanese knotweed in sites across the county and that there is an issue with it at every Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) meeting that he attends.
Louis Duffy, director of services at the Council’s environment department, thanked Cllr Joe Carroll for the information and said they will look into it.