HOUSEHOLDERS in Birkby are drawing up battle lines in their war against dreaded Japanese knotweed.
The virulent weed is sweeping across Clayton Fields village green and will be virtually unstoppable, say campaigners, unless Kirklees Council wades into the fight.
The grassy area just off Deveron Grove was saved from building development in the 1990s. It measures about three-and-a-half acres.
Half an acre has been swamped by Japanese knotweed in just a couple of years. The plant grows at the rate of 7cm per day and is extremely difficult to kill. It has no natural predators.
Bill Magee is a member of the Clayton Fields Action Group.
He and fellow environmentalists have been carrying out the back-breaking work of cutting and burning the knotweed.
Alan Smith, 71, of George Avenue, has done much of the pruning work by himself.
The group has been fighting the menace for two years and is now asking the council for help.
They want to kill the plant with the powerful weedkiller glyphosate.
Cutting back the weed will take the group 10 years. Spraying it with the chemical would take two or three.
"We need more support from the council," said Mr Magee.
Under the 1981 Wildlife and Countryside Act it is an offence to plant or encourage the growth of Japanese knotweed.
"It's an offence really for the council to allow it to grow in a public place like Clayton Fields," said Mr Magee.
"Before long it's going to go down to St Patrick's School and some allotments."
Members of the action group have met local councillors.
Birkby councillor Mehboob Khan is arranging a meeting between residents and officers from Kirklees' Leisure Services department and Environmental Unit, who have had experience of combating knotweed.
He hoped the group could eventually be given cash to help its fight against knotweed.