Donegal County Council, in collaboration with the Inishowen Rivers Trust (IRT), Local Authority Water Programme (LAWPRO) and the Office of Public Works (OPW) have been successful in obtaining funding from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s ‘Public Service Innovation Fund’.
The aim of the fund is to support public bodies develop fresh ideas, new ways of thinking or innovative design that might not otherwise be supported into being.
The amount awarded is €47,000 with Donegal County Council and LAWPRO providing a further €5,000 each in match funding.
The project focuses on the treatment of Japanese knotweed, an invasive alien species which is widespread throughout the county and country.
Each year, public bodies, the private sector and individuals alike devote significant effort treating the plant at great expense and, to date, the approach has largely been to treat the plant with herbicide.
The funding will be used to expand IRT’s research on a novel organic treatment process that is nature based and avoids the use of harmful chemicals.
The trial, led by KPM Soils, will use specially created compost to treat knotweed at several test sites across the county. Previous small-scale testing has shown promising results.
Nature based organic treatment is desirable from both an operations and a biodiversity perspective, as well as being more sustainable in the long term.
The experiment will be completed during the summer and will see a continuation of the strong working relationship between DCC, LAWPRO and the IRT, as well as supporting small enterprise locally.
At the launch, Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr. Jack Murray said he was delighted to hear of the award of funding from DPER for this innovative project and to see the Council collaborating with other State Bodies, non-government organisations and small local enterprise in tackling a problem which has been a blight on the county.
DCC Director of Service for Water and Environment Michael McGarvey also welcomed the award and said that this approach highlights the Council’s commitment to meet biodiversity and sustainability targets by moving away from traditional herbicide based methods to more organic and natural methods where possible.