How do you control a space invader? The problem of Japanese Knotweed in Northern Ireland

Since the introduction of Japanese Knotweed as an ornamental plant in the nineteenth century, it has spread throughout watercourses, transport routes and waste ground, out-competing native plants and damaging buildings and infrastructure. This article examines some of the legislative options available for tackling it and asks whether some of the measures pursued elsewhere may be applicable in Northern Ireland.

Japanese Knotweed (Image: Calln Darabus, under Creative Commons)

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How much change can we expect to current environmental requirements post Brexit?

As the Prime Minister prepares to trigger Article 50, this blog post looks at the potential consequences for environmental standards here in Northern Ireland.

Strangford Lough from Scrabo Hill (Image: Colin Park under Creative Commons)
Strangford Lough from Scrabo Hill (Image: Colin Park under Creative Commons)

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A clear and present danger: Plant disease and invasive species

The plant disease and invasive species threat posed to the environment in Northern Ireland is increasing, and likely to continue to do so due to factors such as increasing world trade and the potential impacts of climate change. These factors also increase the potential risk of the threats that we face diversifying and affecting a wider range of plant species.

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Managing Flood risk in Northern Ireland: Are we prepared?

Prolonged heavy rainfall over the winter of 2015 has shown how devastating flooding can be to homes, businesses and critical infrastructure. With predictions that localised flooding will become an ever more common occurrence, how prepared is Northern Ireland to manage flood risk?

Mullygarry, Fermanagh; after thirty-five consecutive days of rain in 2009, the water levels on Lough Erne rose to 158ft above sea level, the highest since records began in 1956 (image Dean Molyneaux, under Creative Commons).
Mullygarry, Fermanagh; after thirty-five consecutive days of rain in 2009, the water levels on Lough Erne rose to 158ft above sea level, the highest since records began in 1956 (image Dean Molyneaux, under Creative Commons).

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Climate change: picking up where we left off

Rainclouds and a rainbow over the sea (Creative Commons; credit: Niklas Sjöblom)
Rainclouds and a rainbow over the Baltic Sea (Creative Commons; credit: Niklas Sjöblom)

At the beginning of the last Assembly mandate in 2011, the Research and Information Service wrote a piece on the possibility of new legislation for Northern Ireland, ‘Climate Change: the need to raise the game’ [page 90 | PDF | 4.7mb]. Five years on, the climate change debate still remains and legislation specific to Northern Ireland has not yet been introduced. However, discussions around the introduction of legislation have more recently picked up momentum again.

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A new mandate, a new Environment

The merging of environment and agriculture
The merging of environment and agriculture

Local government underwent significant structural change in 2015 with the number of councils reducing from 26 to 11, and the transfer of many functions from central to local government. This has brought changes to the ways in which the environment is managed. In 2016, these changes have continued with a reorganisation of Executive functions.

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