THE PUBLIC’S help is being sought to eradicate “Britain’s most dangerous plant” from the banks of the River Aire.

Keighley-based YORgreencic wants people to report sightings of the Giant Hogweed as they walk along the riverbank. The environmental organisation wants to avoid people being badly stung at hotspots that include the stretch of river between Kildwick and Silsden.

YORgreencic spends around £100,000 a year tackling outbreaks on the Aire between Malham and Esholt under a contract from the Environmental Agency. The plant, which can grow up to four metres in height, was last spotted and treated where Eastburn Beck enters into the Aire.

YORgreencic spokesman Shaun O’Hare described Giant Hogweed, a close relative of Cow Parsley, as Britain’s most dangerous plant.

He said: “It is considered a hazard to health due its sap, which on contact prevents the skin from protecting itself from sunlight and leads to serious burns and blistering. e help control and eradicate Giant Hogweed through the prevention of viable seeds. One plant can distribute up to 20,000 seeds.”

Mr O’Hare said the campaign, which started as a volunteer effort by the Aire Rivers Trust, had seen a 90% reduction in the plant over the past five years. He added: “We walk the whole stretch of river twice between April and June before plants seed.

“The aim is to eliminate it from the entire length of the Aire, and public involvement is a great help in achieving this. The response from the public is fantastic – the control of invasive species on the river really strikes a chord. Walkers and angling club members regularly spot, record and pass on the whereabouts of the plants.”

YORgreencic is a community-interest company based in Keighley that helps communities create and manage green space through multi-functional land use. It specialises in bioenergy, food supply, biodiversity and natural flood management.