HL Deb 24 September 2002 vol 638 cc236-7WA
Lord Marlesford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they plan to take to remove the ragwort growing along the verges of the A 14 and A 11 trunk roads; and whether the uprooting of this noxious plant would be a suitable job for those who have been sentenced to community service. [HL5753]

Lord Macdonald of Tradeston

I have asked the Chief Executive of the Highways Agency, Tim Matthews, to write to the noble Lord.

Letter from the Operations Director of the Highways Agency, David York, dated 1 August 2002.

Tim Matthews has been asked by Lord Macdonald to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question about the removal of ragwort growing along the verges of the A14 and A 11 trunk roads and whether it is a suitable job for those who have been sentenced to Community Service. I am replying since Tim is currently away on leave.

The Highways Agency takes the issue of ragwort on highway land very seriously and undertakes major annual programmes of eradication by spraying and hand weeding.

The Agency makes considerable efforts to identify affected sites and to then treat them on a priority basis. All known ragwort sites on the A 14 and A11 will be treated in due course and the next such works will take place on the A11 in the Newmarket area within the next two weeks.

The removal of ragwort is a labour intensive task. However, working close to fast moving traffic has significant safety implications and the Agency would only wish to use suitably qualified staff in these situations.

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