Current Japanese Knotweed Legislation
When talking to our clients I’m regularly asked if it is illegal to have Japanese Knotweed on their land. Having the plant on your land won’t be a problem as long as you don’t allow it to spread to somebody else’s land. Understanding the current Japanese Knotweed Legislation can help clarify a few things.
If you are informed that there is Japanese Knotweed on your land, it is always best to have a survey carried out by us to determine if the plant has spread to the neighbouring land.
You need to bear in mind that the roots /rhizomes of the Japanese knotweed, are capable of spreading up to 7 meters in all directions and two meters down. This means that if the Japanese knotweed is up to the fence line of your neighbours it’s most likely that the rhizomes are already on their land. Recently there have been court cases where the knotweed has spread onto the neighbouring land and has resulted in the offending landowner having to pay compensation, this was because the landowner failed to stop the spread of the plant.
We have established that it’s not an offence to have Japanese Knotweed on your land as long as it’s not encroaching onto or causing problems for your neighbours. If you choose to ignore the problem, there are ASBO rules that are applicable for allowing the spread of Japanese Knotweed. The landowner could be finically responsible for the treatment/eradication of the Japanese Knotweed.
The Grandfather rights exemption’ no longer applies, if you were born before 31 December 1964 you are no longer allowed to purchase or apply professional pesticides on your land if you are not accredited with the recognised certificates. Download pdf document (2 MB) 26th November 2015 and under European legislation, you will no longer be able to do so.
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (As Amended).
Being the principal legislation that deals with non-native species of plants and animals. Section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981) states that “…if any person plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which is included in Part II of Schedule 9, he will be guilty of an offence.” Japanese Knotweed is one of the plants listed on Schedule 9. Anyone convicted of an offence under Section 14 of the WCA 1981 may face a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment, or 2 years and/or an unlimited fine on indictment. Please follow this link to read the full-text document.
The control of Pesticides Regulations 1986.
These Regulations implement the control of pesticides in general, including professionals like us employed in the treatment of Japanese Knotweed. The application of pesticides must be accompanied by the correct precautions to protect people, wildlife, and the wider environment. Approval must be given by the environment agency prior to applying pesticides near or in water. You can find a full-text document here.
Environmental Protection Act 1990.
The Act has a number of legal provisions regarding “controlled waste”, these are set out in Part II. Japanese knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ meaning, that any plant materials or Japanese Knotweed contaminated soil must be sent to a licensed landfill site. In accordance with the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991. The disposal must be accompanied with the correct waste transfer documentation. Soil containing Japanese knotweed material must be buried at a depth of at least 5 m. Please note if the correct procedure is not followed it could result in enforcement action being taken by the Environment Agency which can result in an unlimited fine. View the full document Click here.
The Hazardous Waste (England and Wales) Regulations 2005.
The regulations contain information about the handling and movement of hazardous waste. Japanese knotweed that has not been treated is not classed as hazardous waste. Treated Japanese Knotweed may be classed as hazardous waste. Special precautions need to be undertaken for transferring the material, accompanied by the notes about the hazardous properties and any special handling requirements. Not complying to the regulations could lead to legal action being taken against you. Click here to read the Regulations in full.
The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012.
This instrument transposes the requirements of Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides (“the Directive”) for the United Kingdom. It includes the requirement for the United Kingdom to adopt a National Action Plan and provisions aimed at achieving the sustainable use of pesticides by reducing risks and impacts of their use on human health and the environment. The full-text document is available at the official website.
The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
The Act does not specifically refer to Japanese Knotweed or other, similar invasive non-native plants, as the new anti-social behaviour powers are intended to be flexible. Qualified professionals can stop and prevent any behaviour that meets the legal test in the powers. The notice can enforce the landowner to control and prevent the growth of the Japanese Knotweed. The test is that the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of those in the locality and that the conduct is unreasonable. Under section 57 of the Act, “conduct” includes “a failure to act”.
Infrastructure Act 2015.
This act got introduced because the existing law did not contain suitable powers to allow for timely and effective control or eradication of invasive non-native species.
The Infrastructure Act 2015 will give the relevant environmental authorities in England and Wales the power to issue the species control orders. These orders will make it possible to compel landowners or occupiers to carry out control or eradication operations or allow them to be carried out by the issuing authority. Breaching a species control order will be a criminal offence, but owners or occupiers will have the right to appeal to a tribunal and, where relevant, may be compensated for any damage caused by the eradication work. Visit the official website for the full-text version of the Act.