Call to tackle St Albans weed infestation

Poisonous ragwort left to grow in St Albans is a danger to animals

Poisonous ragwort left to grow in St Albans is a danger to animals - Credit: Photo supplied

A poisonous weed left to grow wild throughout St Albans despite claiming the lives of horses and livestock has prompted a petition calling upon the county council to take action.

Lynn Myland, chairwoman of the British Horse Society Hertfordshire, obtained 1275 signatures in support of her petition demanding that Herts county council (HCC) “takes its responsibility seriously and actively engages in reducing ragwort.”

At a recent full council meeting Lynn told members that she had received emails from concerned residents in Colney Heath about land owned by the authority where “a lack of control has caused the field to become totally infested with ragwort”.

She showed a photo of a “field full of ragwort owned by HCC where these poisonous, dangerous weeds stand well over three feet high.

“Imagine how 500 seeds per flowering head have needlessly spread?”

Lynn said that last summer, the RSPCA had to remove horses from HCC-owned land because it was ragwort-infested. And the toxic weed is also growing along highway verges.

The control of ragwort is covered under two government acts, with land owners, occupiers and managers expected to take responsibility to stifle its spread.

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Lynn added: “You are not controlling the spread of this dangerous weed. I would like to offer assistance from the British Horse Society in identifying hot spots and ensuring your contractors are aware of what ragwort looks like, and how to safely control or remove it.”

After calling for more action to be taken before spring, she was told at the meeting that there was no additional money to do so because of “cut-backs”.

In a report to the council, officers said grass verges and central reservations were cut “generally” twice a year throughout the county and that weeds were sprayed every two years “which helps contain the spread”.