Call to control invasive weeds on the River Nith

BEAUTIFUL blooms of pink flowers on the banks of the River Nith have been drawing admiring glances from passers-by.

But the Himalayan balsam is actually a terrestrial invasive weed and a danger to the river embankment and crops.

And Upper Nithsdale Councillor Andrew Wood is calling on the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to take action.

“The Himalayan balsam is bonny to look at, but it’s an offence to permit its growth in the wilderness and SEPA is breaking the law under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

“SEPA is supposed to be the environmental protection body for Scotland but this stuff is sprouting up all over the place,” said Mr Wood.

“It needs to be controlled.

“The River Nith is a breeding habitat and this invasive weed should have been dealt with.”

Himalayan balsam tolerates low light levels and, in turn, tends to shade out other vegetation, impoverishing habitats, particularly along road or river corridors and it has been estimated that invasive non-native species cost the British economy around £2 billion every year.

A SEPA spokeswoman said: “There are many plants, animals and insects living in Scotland which are not native to our country. They have been introduced accidentally or deliberately by people and while some are beneficial, for example many of the crops and animals farmed to feed us, others can have negative effects.

“Invasive non-native species are considered a significant water management issue and in some areas the presence of certain species has resulted in watercourses being classified as less than good status. SEPA works with partners such as Scottish Natural Heritage to develop research into the effects of, and possible solutions for, the problems caused by invasive non-native species.

“We are also working closely with the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland on a country-wide project to develop biosecurity plans for most river catchments which will help to prevent the spread of invasive non–native species, and quickly tackle any new arrivals.”