An infestation of Japanese knotweed could add £70 million to the cost of staging the 2012 Olympics.
Surveyors have discovered that the aggressive weed has taken over 10 acres of the proposed sites for the velodrome and aquatic centre in Stratford.
Specialists can charge up to £40,000 to clear only six square yards of ground affected by the weed, which has been called the most invasive plant in Britain.
Workers at the Olympic site have begun hacking and burning but specialists may be needed to ensure every trace is removed to stop a renewed infestation. That could mean the cost of the work, involving concentrated chemical weedkiller and large-scale excavation, could top £70 million.
Introduced in the 1850s as an ornamental plant, knotweed is such a menace to native species that planting it is now an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
It can grow three quarters of an inch a day and its roots can burrow 10 feet down, cracking concrete foundations and damaging walls and roads.
The Olympic Delivery Authority insists there is enough funding in the £220 million set aside for the preparation of the Olympic site to meet the cost.
News of the infestation comes after Culture Secretary, Tessa Jowell, revealed the total budget for the Olympics had risen to £9.3 billion.
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Original article from the mail online, www.dailymail.co.uk | UPDATED:11:55, 26 March 2007