Wigan business upset as canal staff spray pest plant

Stuart Banks and Rob Griffiths from Seven Stars Garage
Stuart Banks and Rob Griffiths from Seven Stars Garage

Staff looking after the region’s waterways have taken dramatic action to rid a stretch of Wigan canal bank of an invasive plant.


Employees from the Canal and River Trust used a powerful weedkiller near Wigan Pier to kill off a patch of gunnera last week.

The organisation says the plant is on the list of species which it is illegal to grow or allow to take root in the soil.

The action has been criticised by Wallgate garage Seven Stars, which is located on the opposite bank and says the Trust should be more concerned about problems with littering and weeds.

However, the Trust defended its record on keeping the stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool Canal tidy.

A spokesman for Canal and River Trust said: “We’re glad that people who work next to the canal want to enjoy a pleasant view from their window, but unfortunately gunnera is an invasive species and it’s illegal to plant it or allow it to grow.

“As a result, once our ecologists had identified it, we had no choice but to remove it.

“The canal is a great place to go and relax, so it’s really annoying when people drop litter there. Our teams are out every day to keep improving it, and with the help of our amazing volunteers we do regular clean-ups, both from the towpath and on canoes.

“We have been out in this area several times over the past few weeks tackling known hotspots, and our efforts will continue.

“Of course, we also urge people to dispose of their litter responsibly to help reduce the problem.”

Employees in canoes took to the water last Thursday to get rid of the rampant plant.

Carole King from the independent garage nearby, though, said it was a shame the gunnera had to go.

She said: “Every year when it has flowered you got people coming down the towpath and stopping to take pictures of it.
“It gets so big and it was lovely.”

To get involved in helping to look after the canal visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/volunteer