PLANS for 51 social houses at Beechgrove in Clonakilty could be in jeopardy due to the presence of the highly invasive and massively destructive Japanese knotweed.
Residents in the nearby Woodlands Estate off Fernhill Road have said that despite being told by Council officials that the problem would be dealt with, they found large Japanese knotweed plants growing on the site last week.
Councillors were told by their officials last August that the plant would be moved from one part of the site to another section where it was to be entombed in a sealed receptor cell below ground to rot and die.
However, a letter signed by several concerned residents said: ‘These pictures show that the plant is still growing on one part of the site and there could be more of it elsewhere.
‘We feel that the Beechgrove estate cannot now go ahead as the plant would not only damage any new houses but the construction work would spread the plant around the site, the nearby Gaeilscoil and surrounding residential estates.’
They have also pointed out that the area where they found Japanese knotweed growing was not one of four original areas that had been highlighted in an initial Council survey.
‘Only one section of the entire site is cordoned off for the presence of it and that’s directly in front of a derelict house. This makes the spread of the plant more likely with all the work – trees having been cut and lorries coming in and out – that has occurred to date,’ said the letter.
They are calling for clarity from Cork County Council as to what their intention is to limit the spread of the plant and whether they will move it offsite to be destroyed. The residents also want to know if a different and safer location can be be found for the proposed estate.
It is understood that the County Council is in the process of appointing a contractor for the housing development with works to begin this summer.
There was no comment available from the local authority at the time of going to press, but the setback is likely to cause concern to organisations dealing with the current housing crisis. During 2018, there were 232 referrals of people homeless or at risk of homelessness in West Cork to the housing charity Novas.