£46m bill to fight alien invasion
The threat posed by invasive species such as Japanese knotweed could cost Northern Ireland £46.5m a year, Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned.
He was backing EU proposals for a Europe-wide plan to curb the spread of alien species – foreign plants, animals or insects which can carry diseases, harm the environment, damage property or cause economic losses.
Zebra mussels have already caused widespread ecological changes to the Lough Erne habitat, while Japanese knotweed is capable of pushing its way through concrete.
Speaking after a vote in the EU's environment committee, Mr Nicholson said: "The cost of these species to the Northern Ireland economy alone is £46.5m per year with wider implications for biodiversity."