ROGUE countryside invaders will be tackled with the creation of new environmental hit squads.

Troubles with non-native Himalayan balsam, and Japanese knotweed, and giant hogweed, are more pronounced in Burnley and Pendle than anywhere else within the local river network.

And now the Ribble Rivers Trust is offering specialist training to volunteers, using a new cash injection from DEFRA – the Government's environment department, to combat the issue.

Environment officials in Whitehall have awarded the Clitheroe-based trust an extra £15,000 to cut back on the proliferating species on the banks of the River Calder and its tributaries, which also runs through the Ribble Valley.

Adam Walmsley, the trust's invasive species officer, said: “The Calder catchment area is quite heavily infested with these non-native species so this will be quite a big undertaking.

“If you look at the likes of the Hodder, or the waterway as it runs through the Yorkshire Dales, there are hardly any reports of problems. But we will be working with volunteers on a number of exercises this summer to begin to make an impression.”

Specialist training on ‘balsam bashing’ and how to curb other fast-growing riverbank invaders will be offered through the trust’s ongoing partnership with Myerscough College.

Adam has been involved with the Lancashire Invasive Species Project for the past year or more which, as well as looking at non-native flora and fauna, has also been on the lookout for sightings of American mink and signal crayfish.

For more details of upcoming action days on the issue, you can contact Adam at the trust on 01200 444452 or e-mail

Weed invaders

Giant hogweed

  • Often found by lowland streams and rivers but is found on wasteground and rough pastures in Britain.
  • A member of the cow parsley family, it can grow to two to three metres high.
  • Each plant can produce around 20,000 seeds.

Himalayan balsam

  • Balsam prefers moist and semi-shaded places like thin woodland and wasteground.
  • First introduced to the UK in the mid-19th century.
  • Known to ‘out-compete’ other species, it is a common riverbank sight in Lancashire.

Japanese knotweed

  • A favourite of urban wastelands and river banks, it was introduced by the
  • Victorians.
  • Can grow to more than three metres.
  • Trial releases of plant louses, a known consumer of knotweed, are under way in UK.