Giant Hogweed ‘running riot’ at Chesterfield beauty spot

The flower stalk of a Giant Hogweed plant
The flower stalk of a Giant Hogweed plant

A concerned Birdholme resident is angry that a potentially dangerous plant is being left to ‘run riot’ by Chesterfield Borough Council.

John Moses, 73, of Swalebank Close, has reported the giant hogweed ‘forest’ to the authorities on ‘a number of occasions’ but says they have yet to do anything about it.

Angry residents worried about the increase in Giant Hogweed along the River Rother

Angry residents worried about the increase in Giant Hogweed along the River Rother

The sap of the plant can cause serious burns if it comes into contact with the skin and can even blind people who get it in their eyes.

He said: “It’s down where a group of us meet up to walk our dogs. They are 15 foot tall - they look impressive when you see them but it just a shame they are so dangerous.

“The last couple of years there have been a few of us on at the council to do something about it.

“They have made a half hearted attempt with about half of the ones that are there but it just grows like you wouldn’t believe.

Giant Hogweed pushing up against the gardens of residents along the River Rother

Giant Hogweed pushing up against the gardens of residents along the River Rother

The main areas of concern are an area over the river called the Rother Wetlands and a park on Warwick Street in Birdholme.

John, who is retired and has lived in Chesterfield with his wife for the last 22 years, says there are dozens of individual plants in both places - possibly hundreds.

“I have now called the council a number of times.

“They told me they had got a contractor to do it but after that I haven’t been able to get hold of anybody .”

Councillor Chris Ludlow, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “Chesterfield Borough Council will treat Giant Hogweed growing on its land.

“The areas at Rother Wetlands and Warwick Street Park have been brought to the attention of the contractor who carries out the work on our behalf and will be treated during the summer months.”

Giant hogweed: what it looks like and what to do if you are exposed

Giant hogweed is a close relative to cow parsley. It has thick, bristly, reddish-purple stems and can reach over 3m (10ft) in height. The flowers are white in a flat-topped clusters that can be as large as 60cm (2ft) across. It commonly grows on riverbanks and wasteland and has leaves, stems, roots, flowers and seeds contain toxic components which can be transferred by contact and make exposed skin extremely sensitive to sunlight.

If you come into contact the burns can last for several months and the skin can remain sensitive to light for many years. The NHS advises: “If the sap of the giant hogweed comes into contact with your skin, it can cause severe, painful burns and make your skin sensitive to strong sunlight. If you touch a giant hogweed, cover the affected area, and wash it with soap and water.