AS THE county is baked by what is set to be the hottest British summer on record, county council workers are tackling an outbreak of weeds which are burgeoning in the heatwave. Already this summer, teams have destroyed around 18,500 square metres of the invasive weeds, spraying them with a special herbicide. This, the council says, is friendlier to the environment and kills weeds systemically. This treatment normally takes place over the summer months along footways and kerbs in towns and villages. Hampshire County Council manages around 5,500 miles of road and 2,000 miles of roadside verges. Councillor Rob Humby, Executive Member for Environment and Transport at Hampshire County Council said: “Our highways teams cut grass and treat weeds once a year, although overgrown vegetation affecting sight lines and safety on the roads is always dealt with as an emergency, and I would urge people to report this to us as soon as they can. “The heatwave seems to have slowed the growth of grass, but there are areas where the weeds are very robust, and while weeds growing on roads and footways are not dangerous, they are certainly unsightly and can cause damage to the road surfaces. We are aware of the problem and grateful to residents and our colleagues at the district councils who have alerted us to areas which need particular attention. I would like to reassure residents that there will be extra highways crews out now until the end of the growing season to tackle weeds as part of a targeted programme.” Hampshire County Council also has a record of known growth sites of injurious and invasive weeds such as Japanese Knotweed, Giant Hogweed and Marestail and these are treated three times a year. Ragwort is controlled through a combination of hand pulling and cutting. Grass and foliage is cut once a year on rural roads with swathes cut back to one or two metres depending on location. Urban verges are cut more often. Outside of this, grass and foliage will be cut back where it may cause a safety risk because of reduced visibility. Hampshire Highways takes extra care to manage over 200 Roadside Verges of Ecological Importance in Hampshire. Verge cutting is also timed to manage designated Road Verges of Ecological Importance which have identified rare flower species.