MORE than £150,000 has been spent by Bournemouth council clearing an invasive weed from a new affordable housing site estate in Boscombe.

Japanese Knotweed was discovered at the former Palmerston Road car park during the construction of the 11 new homes last year.

The £1.9m scheme was funded through the sale of the houses which were built by Drew Construction.

Clearance work carried out by a specialist Japanese knotweed removal firm, and the removal of an underground fuel tank has cost the council £168,525.

The figure was made public at Tuesday’s meeting of Bournemouth council following a question asked by Cllr Stephen Bartlett about whether there would be any future costs as a result of the weed’s discovery.

Responding, Cllr Bob Lawton said: “The new build development [at Palmerston Road] did identify a problem prior to construction.

“Japanese Knotweed Ltd have been undertaking the monitoring and they contacted us in August to arrange access for treatment work.

“Responsibility rests with the housing team and any additional costs will be paid for by the Housing Revenue Account.”

Part of the total sum spent on clearing the site includes the cost of ensuring that an underground fuel tank found on the site – which is believed to date back to when it was a car sales centre – had not contaminated the surrounding land.

The contract awarded to Japanese Knotweed Ltd also includes five years of monitoring work to ensure that the plant does not return.

The weed has been known to regrow from small amounts of remaining plant which can be as deep as 7ft below ground.

A field trial carried out by researchers at Swansea University, the results of which were published earlier this year, found that eradicating the plant was not possible in the short term.

The government has estimated that the cost of completely removing the plant from the UK would be more than £1bn.

In a bid to control the plant’s growth, a species of Japanese insect which mainly feeds on the weed was released in controlled trial in south Wales in 2016.

The presence of Japanese knotweed has often made mortgage providers reluctant to lend to people whose properties have been affected.