The law on Japanese Knotweed

The law on Japanese Knotweed

Japanese Knotweed is considered an invasive non-native species. After being introduced to Britain as an ornamental garden plant during the 19th century it is now widespread and has become established in the wild. Whilst it is not an offence to simply have it growing in your garden, it is an offence, under section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to “plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild” any plant listed in Schedule nine, Part II to the Act, which includes Japanese Knotweed. In Scotland, the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 came into force in July 2012 and superseded the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This act states that it is an offence to spread intentionally or unintentionally Japanese Knotweed (or other non-native invasive species).

Committing an offence under these acts can result in criminal prosecution. You could face a fine of up to £5000 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment if found guilty in a magistrates court, and up to 2 years’ imprisonment and /or an unlimited fine in a crown court. Your mortgage lender can legally refuse your mortgage if Japanese Knotweed is recorded on yours or a nearby property and you can be sued for damages and costs if you allow Japanese Knotweed to spread from your property to an adjacent landowner.

Any Japanese Knotweed plant material and soil contaminated with Japanese Knotweed that you intend to dispose of is likely to be classified as “controlled waste” under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and must therefore be disposed of at an appropriately licensed landfill.

The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 require any person who uses a pesticide to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants, safeguard the environment and in particular avoid the pollution of water. Approval from the Environment Agency/SEPA should be sought before application of pesticides in or near water. Material containing Japanese Knotweed that has been treated with certain herbicides may also be regarded as “hazardous waste” under the Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005.

Did you know?

“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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