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An interview with Darren Greatbatch
By Jennifer Holmes

An interview with Darren Greatbatch

environment controls launch

As we launch this new arm of Japanese Knotweed Ltd, our Marketing team asked Darren Greatbatch what it means to him as Specialist Advisory Manager, and what benefits Environment Controls will bring to the invasive weeds and contaminated ground industries.

Hello, joining us for today’s interview is Mr Darren Greatbatch, Special Advisory Manager who has some very special news.

Thank you for joining us today, Darren.

DG: It’s a pleasure Ross.

So it’s been a very busy time for you recently for a couple of reasons so you know, without gilding the Lily, I wanna jump straight into it – so you have a bit of a special announcement for us today, is that right?

DG: We do – today I’m very pleased to announce the launch of Environmental Controls. The new arm of Japanese knotweed Limited.

Like who are Environmental Controls? What is this new arm and and what’s it all about? Do you do anything else other than Japanese knotweed?

DG: Yes we do. We cover everything from amenity weed control on highways using quad bikes to all the other invasive weeds, including aquatic weeds, waterborne weeds that we can treat via boat, all the way through to species such as oak processionary moth.

We’re still looking after Japanese knotweed and and all your other toxic weeds out there, but we’re also looking at habitat regeneration to put a little bit of something back. Wildflower meadows on verges, etc. So yeah, it’s an all-encompassing side of the business that’s going to take JKL and EC even further.

So what made you decide to to launch the new Environmental controls business? I know you say Japanese Knotweed Ltd does what it says on the tin but like where did the decision come from to say hey you know what, it’s time to create a second arm?

DG: I think the directors decided it was just the natural evolution of the company to move forward and and to take it a little bit further. As a as an industry we use herbicides, we treat invasive weeds, we excavate. So when we have other weeds that have to be controlled with herbicides or sweeping methods, it’s just bringing that in. So part of my role is is to bring in an integrated approach. On the other side of it, I look after all the other invasive species, so I’ll go out and look at the Oak processionary moth and we’ll look at a treatment program to put in place for that and other weird and wonderful things that you get in farmers fields or equine centres. And I put the management plan in place for that. 

On  the other side of that, I’ll also look at how we can improve sports fields. So whether that’s by using a selective herbicide to take off the amount of the weeds, to actually improving the soil structure on the surfaces for local authorities.

So it’s it’s quite varied role. I’m also involved with Amenity Forum, attending meetings, and just discussing how we can improve the environment, so it’s a wonderful, varied role. One minute I might be looking at invasive weeds the next minute I might be looking at putting a herbicide plan in place or planting a Wildflower Meadow on a verge for instance. It’s very varied and very enjoyable. So that’s my role in a nutshell.

And so it’s it’s really interesting that it’s a business that you know is tackling a real problem, but also is a business that is improving the environment. Like you know when you’re talking about considering things like carbon footprint, I think that’s going to be big for businesses, we’ve seen the sort of effects of global warming already, and so it’s great to know that it’s going to be a conscious business, it’s not just a business that’s driving growth. It’s actually about giving back as well.

You mentioned quite a few different kind of areas for example, football fields and local authorities. So who would benefit from working with Environmental Controls? Would it be large councils or does it bridge the spectrum? Who would you say would be good to work with you?

DG: It bridges the spectrum. Anyone from from a residential homeowner to a small parish council, to a cemetery run by a local diocese to a large local authority that covers a wide range of high speed road networks. Land owners, estate managers, estate agencies, everybody that has land or dealing with property or land. Brownfield sites as well. There’s a lack of housing in the UK and we need to use the areas that we’ve got to build new properties on, but a lot of the old industrial sites have contaminated ground. They could have a lot of invasive weed on there. And there’s a tax relief that’s involved with that as well.

It’s beneficial to everybody but we’ve a broad spectrum from your homeowner right the way through to your large blue chip organisation. So really we have the skills and and the equipment in place to tackle pretty much jobs of any size across across the spectrum.

That’s that’s really good to know, so just one last question then. Before we wrap this up. What advice would you give to people who think that they may have a problem with an invasive species and what steps should they take or what should be their kind of go to?

DG: First thing, don’t ignore it. The problem’s not going to go away. Take ragwort for instance. If you look at that seed bank, it’s going to exacerbate year on year and in no time at all your time is going to be taken up with it, so don’t ignore it. If you’re unsure of what it is, we have a free identity service online.

Also, don’t try and tackle it yourself because if you try and dig it up, excavate it or treat it yourself with things you can buy in shops you can again exacerbate the problem. Give us a call, we can do the free identification for you and also get us in to do a survey and that’ll be a professional survey which will break down everything for you. It’ll show you how we would treat that problem for you. We’ll also give you the extent of the area needing to be treated in one go, or it could be separated out for you. So the first thing to do is don’t ignore it. Don’t try to deal with it yourself. Get the professionals in, get us to do a survey.

I know there are risks of trying to deal with some of these plants yourself. Some of them are highly toxic and quite dangerous to people, like Giant hogweed that causes blisters, so I think that’s that’s great advice. I want to thank you for coming on. I know it’s a very busy time for you with with the launch so thank you very much for your time and and hopefully you’ll come and talk with us again in the future.

DG: I will certainly thanks very much.