An invasive plant species 'boom' is 'taking over' popular walking routes and river paths across the region, according to the head of a North Yorkshire fishing group. 

Ron Wood, who is chair of the Richmond Angling Association, noted how 'damaging' Japanese Knotweed can be to river paths and our environment during a Save Our Swale public meeting on Saturday (June 8) in Richmond. 

Japanese knotweed is native to East Asia and was introduced to the UK in the 1800s where it has since spread out of control. 

Japanese knotweedJapanese knotweed (Image: PA MEDIA)

It can grow up to four inches a day and forms dense thickets which can kill native plant species, making it particularly harmful to the flora of the region.

During the meeting, Mr Wood highlighted how much the plant was taking over our walking routes along the River Swale and, in some cases, gardens - with the chair of the angling association warning that people's houses could be worth 'nothing' if Japanese Knotweed took over their garden. 

A walker in the open countrysideA walker in the open countryside (Image: PA MEDIA)

"Japanese Knotweed is spreading over the River Swale catchment, and I've spotted it at various stages along the river at Richmond and surrounding villages," said Mr Wood during the meeting.

"If knotweed gets into your garden, it can take over your drains, building work - and your house could ultimately be worth nothing. 

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"I do patrols with the Environment Agency, and it's shocking to see how much Japanese Knotweed exists. 

"It's not just in North Yorkshire where it is - I went up to Chester-le-Street recently and it was there as well."

After mentioning the dangers of Japanese Knotweed, Mr Wood said that five members of the angling association were training to deal with the knotweed, and would be learning how to spray the knotweed to eliminate the invasive species. 

Earlier this year, there were reports that Japanese Knotweed was thriving, due to the wet weather seen in February and March.