MEA councillors call for better weed control across the borough despite TransportNI cutbacks

Newly-elected DUP councillor for Larne Lough, Paul Reid  INLT 22-687-CON
Newly-elected DUP councillor for Larne Lough, Paul Reid INLT 22-687-CON

DUP Councillors Paul Reid and Gregg McKeen are calling on the DRD and Transport NI to fulfil their legal responsibility in controlling the spread of noxious and invasive weeds.

Councillor Reid, who comes from a farming back ground, stated: “Farmers have a robust weed control implementation plan on their lands, so as to prevent the spread of weeds.

“This is to ensure farmers fully comply with all legal requirements on weed control.

“However, DRD are falling short on their responsibilities in meeting the legal requirements as laid down in schedule 9 section 27 schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (NI) 2011.”

Councillor McKeen commented: “The DRD have to prevent invasive and noxious weeds spreading onto other grounds and not to cause a nuisance under the said act. “All land owners must comply on the grounds that they either occupy or own with specific responsibilities.

“These include spraying and cutting and the safe disposal.

“The DUP councillors firmly hold the opinion that what has been witnessed over the past number of weeks, with the DRD failing to cut grass could be possibly viewed as a non compliance to their responsibilities. DRD have stated that due to financial constraints they are unable to cut grass.

“This Is a folly of an argument as we are all aware that the farming community have been facing many financial problems and difficulties, and in recent days the fall in the milk prices.

“However, farmers still fulfil their legal requirements and the DUP representatives call on the DRD Minister to meet his legal requirements.”

During a debate on grass cutting at a meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council on August 3, several local councillors highlighted their concerns regarding overgrown grass and weeds at the borough’s roadsides and junctions.

In a letter to the council, Transport NI highlighted the fact that it is facing “resource budget pressure” which has hindered its delivery of services such as grass cutting.

TransportNI said that grass areas across the borough will be cut once bewteen April and Pctober this year, with sightlines at bends and junctions being cut more frequently.

Sinn Fein Councillor Declan O’Loan commented: “Weeds that would have been regularly sprayed are looking extremely unslightly.

“We need clarity as to what will happen.”

Chief Executive Anne Donagh was due to meet with TransportNI representative Deirdre Mackle on August 4.