Council accused of inaction over deadly ragwort weed removal

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Concerns about the spread of the deadly weed ragwort will be voiced at today’s full council meeting.

Councillor Gavin Logan is expected to raise the issue of the toxic plant in the open questions section of the meeting.

He is set to ask officials: “Has the council any long-term plans to deal with the scourge of ragwort on council-owned land?”

The Conservative councillor for Tweeddale East told us: “The point of the question is, if the council are not controlling ragwort, why should the other landowners in the Borders bother?”

Under the 1959 Weeds Act, landowners, including councils, are bound to remove the noxious weed from land they own.

Councillor Logan said: “I have concerns that ragwort is not being controlled and may even be spreading in the Borders. Even though poisoning is rare, it is a cumulative poison that eventually destroys the liver. Little can be done once the symptoms appear and young animals are most at risk.”

He continued: “As a landowner, the council has a responsibility to control ragwort and to stop it from spreading. Eventually the Secretary of State for Scotland could require the council to control the weed.”

He admitted: “There are cost implications, however potential costs can only rise if ragwort continues to spread.”

He told us: “I see no evidence of any attempts to control ragwort by the council in my ward or anywhere else.

“There were attempts to control ragwort in the Borders in previous years. I am not aware of any attempts anywhere this year.”

When contacted by TheSouthern, a council spokesperson said officials would comment on the issue after today’s meeting.

Known as ‘yellow weed’, ragwort is often seen growing in fields and along roadside verges. It can kill horses, other farm animals and wildlife. Most animals avoid the living weed, but it becomes more palatable and attractive when cut or dried. However, ragwort is the preferred food of the rare cinnabar moth’s caterpillar.