If you have invasive non-native plants on your premises you have a responsibility to prevent them from spreading into the wild or causing a nuisance to adjacent landowners. You must not:
Allow invasive plants to spread onto adjacent land – the owner of that land could take legal action against you.
Plant or encourage the spread of invasive plants outside of your property – this can include moving contaminated soil from one place to another or incorrectly handling, transporting and disposing of contaminated material and plant cuttings.
Whilst you are not obliged to remove or treat invasive plants on your own premises you must ensure that the risk associated with the spread of these plants is properly managed. Managing land infested by invasive plants in a timely and appropriate manner can avoid excessive costs, potential prosecution and compensation claims, physical damage to buildings and hard surfaces, and harm to the environment.
When considering how to manage Japanese Knotweed on your premises you must decide on the most appropriate means of control. Control by cutting alone is ineffective and may increase stem density and the lateral spread of the rhizome. Regrowth is very rapid. Note that strimmers and bladed cutting equipment must not be used for cutting near a watercourse as fragments could enter the water and spread downstream. Regular pulling will, after a number of years, eventually exhaust the rhizome and kill the plant. This is only an effective method of control if it is carried out continually over a number of years and is only effective on small or newly established clumps. The main problem with these methods is the safe disposal of the cut or pulled stems to prevent further spread. Cut material should be collected up then dried out and burnt on site or removed and taken to a licensed landfill site. Digging up the rhizomes is a common solution where the land is to be developed but the large underground network can extend 7 metres horizontally and 3 metres deep making excavation difficult. The contaminated soil and rhizome fragments are considered controlled waste and must be properly disposed of.
The use of herbicides is often the most effective option for the control of Japanese Knotweed but there are some issues that need to be considered first. The main issue is whether the Knotweed is near water or not. Consent is required from the Environment Agency/SEPA if herbicides are to be sprayed near water and only certain products are approved for use in this situation. There are health and safety issues associated with the use of herbicides and those administering herbicide should be properly trained and hold an appropriate certificate of competence. Herbicides should only be used in accordance with the advice provided by the manufacturer and the formulation must be approved for the intended use. Further, there is an obligation to avoid the spread of herbicides to non-target areas/vegetation so spraying must be carried out in dry, calm weather conditions.
It is also important to consider surrounding properties and the potential for re-introduction. If control is limited to one problem area, re-infestation is likely from adjacent areas so it may be necessary to deal with plants in adjacent areas too.
“At the Olympic site in East London the RHS reports the cost of removing and disposing of Japanese Knotweed to be estimated at £70 million.”
The Environment Agency calls Japanese Knotweed “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”
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