Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Japanese Knotweed and the Law

Japanese Knotweed is not the first thing to spring to mind when you think of the flora and fauna you might have to deal with as a wildlife crimes officer! But yesterday the D&C Wildlife Crimes Group did have a query about the invasive invader so we had to do some research. The information below was found at the Japanese Knotweed Solutions website (other Knotweed solution companies are available!!) ands pretty much covers all the law you need to know when dealing with offences for the alien plant.

Due to the destructive characteristics of Japanese Knotweed, strong legislation is in place to control the magnitude of the problem.

Some common legal issues with regards to Japanese Knotweed:

  • It's a criminal offence to cause the spread of Japanese Knotweed under Section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981)
  • You could face a fine of up to £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment if found guilty in a Magistrate's Court, and up to 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine in a Crown Court.
  • You could be sued (under laws relating to private nuisance under common law) for costs and damages if you allow Japanese Knotweed to spread from your property onto that of an adjacent landowner.
  • The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990, Duty of Care Regulations 1991 state that cut Japanese Knotweed material and soil containing rhizomes must be disposed of as controlled waste.
  • You will have to pay to dispose of controlled waste containing Japanese knotweed at a licensed landfill.
  • You need a Waste Carrier's licence when transporting controlled waste for business or profit, and you must follow strict guidelines.
  • If you fail to show that you have the authority to transport controlled waste, you may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice. The penalty fine is currently set at £300.
  • You are not allowed to put any Japanese knotweed material in to any of your local council-provided bins, or in public rubbish bins.
  • Your mortgage lender can legally refuse to give you a mortgage if Japanese Knotweed is recorded on your property or a nearby property.
On the up-side:
  • It’s not illegal to have it on your land
  • It’s not a "notifiable weed"
  • It's not classed as an "Injurious Weed" (as defined by the Weeds Act 1959)
For further description of Japanese Knotweed legislation, please refer to the Environment Agency's code of practice ‘Managing Japanese knotweed on development sites', a copy of which can be found on the Environment Agency's website here

The other up-side of course is that the stuff can be made into some delicious recipes and also wine and other alcoholic drinks!!