LANDOWNERS have been urged to continue their efforts to rid the banks of the River Tyne of an invasive plant species.

The River Tyne Giant Hogweed Eradication Project has worked successfully in recent years to remove the potentially harmful species from the River Tyne and its tributaries.

James Wyllie, project coordinator, said the initiative was continuing to progress but stressed that work needed to be maintained.

He said: “There are one or two landowners who could pay closer attention to spraying the plants on their land and also to spraying the plants earlier in the season before stem extension starts, as plants sprayed too late and come to flower can take 20 minutes to remove, as opposed to two seconds to spray at the right time.

“You know who you might be, so please give that little extra this year. Having said this, I would like to say again how well you have all done and thanks for your support throughout last season. I look forward to meeting those whom I have not had the chance to meet in person.”

Mr Wyllie added: “There are one or two places along the River Tyne, upstream of East Linton, where some difficulty in reaching the edge of the river can be experienced.

“By taking a tractor or forklift with bucket and creating a small track through large gorse patches, it would make it easier for landowners to access nearer to the river edges to spray their giant hogweed in this and future years, and allow easier monitoring. It is a good job to do while the ground is still frozen. This would save having to access via the River Tyne, which at times can be quite large.”

Giant hogweed was introduced to Britain as an ornamental plant in the 19th century but the sap can cause blisters and scars.

The project is not only tackling giant hogweed; many landowners are also looking to eradicate Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam.

Mr Wyllie encouraged people to spray those plants as well, in a bid to stop the problem getting worse.