AN ALIEN invader is causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in Barrhead. Japanese Knotweed is spreading like a virus along the town's waterways and wild land - bringing with it the risk of critical damage to buildings and foundations.

The weed - notorious in construction and environmental firms for its ability to cling on to life - causes damage when its incredibly strong roots begin to rip apart the foundations of buildings and walls.

The damage can already be seen around Barrhead in areas including Gateside, Neilston Road and parts of Kelburn Street.

Although slow to spread initially, infestations can quickly and unexpectedly spiral out of control as seeds lie dormant for years before sprouting.

The plant can cause long-term economic problems too, with many construction firms refusing to build on land that harbours the aggressive green villain - and banks can also refuse a mortgage if the plant if found on a property.

And while the council's environmental teams are equipped to deal with the problem, there is little they can do to prevent damage to non-public buildings where responsibility lies with private landlords. A council spokesman told the News: "Japanese Knotweed is a very invasive plant and it can be seen in many parts of Barrhead. It can be found along the entire length of the Levern Water from its source to where it joins the River Cart. The council's responsibility is to treat only council property. It is up to private and owners to deal with the weed on their own property." The spokesman added: "Currently the council have been working on eradicating the weed on both sides of Hill Drive in Newton Mearns and in Barrhead we have been working on Gateside Road near the Fereneze Golf Course.

"In most cases it is the responsibility of private land owners to deal with the problem. We as a council have no legislation input so we cannot enforce private landowners to eradicate it." Any residents who think they have the aggressive invader on their property can find out more at the Scottish Environmental and Protection Agency website -