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Highways Agency: Ragwort

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Transport what steps the Highways Agency is taking to remove ragwort from (a) the roadside and (b) other land for which the Highways Agency is responsible. (290684)

Ragwort is a difficult plant to control and requires a long-term and systematic approach as the seeds can remain dormant in the ground for over 20 years.

The Highways Agency dedicates significant resources to its control each year. It is not possible to eradicate ragwort entirely because plants can spread from adjoining land. The Agency's service providers are required to follow the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs code of practice as well as Agency specific guidance, to control ragwort at the roadside and on other Agency owned land. Control measures, which include the use of herbicides, are particularly targeted at locations where livestock is most at risk.

Year round monitoring is undertaken to identify the location of ragwort plants, so that control measures can be used when most effective, and not just during the flowering season. Adjacent landowners are informed where ragwort is present, to encourage them to introduce their own measures of control.