Japanese Knotweed – your rights and obligations

Japanese Knotweed is listed in Part II of Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. A person is guilty of an offence if they plant or cause plants contained within this schedule to grow in the wild. Japanese knotweed was originally introduced by the Victorians as an ornamental plant and has also been used as cattle feed.

Technically it is not a crime to have the plant in your grounds, but it is a crime if it grows uncontrolled or encroaches onto neighboring land. In addition, the plant is classified as a ‘controlled waste’ under the Environment Act 1990 and can only be transported and disposed of at a licensed site by a licensed contractor.

Other non-native plants listed in Part II of Schedule 9 include Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed.

In 2018, the Court of Appeal heard a case ‘Network Rail Infrastructure v Williams and Anor [2018]’. Williams and Anor (the claimant) made a civil claim of nuisance against Network Rail claiming the presence of Japanese Knotweed on Network Rail owned land had begun to encroach on their land. Williams and Anor sought an injunction against Network Rail requiring them to abate the nuisance. The court of appeal confirmed that the purpose of tort of nuisance is not to protect the value of property as an investment or financial asset but it is intended to protect the amenity value. The court of appeal did not change the award of damages which was originally set at treatment and insurance costs plus £10,000 to one claimant and £10,500 to the other claimant.

Japanese Knotweed is best controlled by the application of a suitable herbicide which should only be administered by suitably qualified individuals. Treatment can take two to three years. The best time of year to treat Japanese Knotweed is late summer/early autumn. If the Japanese Knotweed is located in water, within a protected site or near a water abstraction, you will need prior written approval from Natural Resources Wales (or the relevant agency body).

We advise clients to treat Japanese Knotweed as soon as it is identified in order to prevent it from spreading. The presence of Japanese Knotweed can diminish the value of a property as some mortgage lenders will not lend if its presence is confirmed, furthermore purchasers are generally cautious about the future implications and potential future costs of treating the invasive plant.

Japanese Knotweed appears to be a growing problem (pardon the pun), Baileys and Partners have acted on behalf of clients who have sought to take action against neighbouring landowners due to encroachment of the plant. Baileys and Partners can arrange for the successful treatment of Japanese Knotweed, please do get in contact if we can be of assistance. www.baileysandpartners.co.uk or email:enquiries@baileysandpartners.co.uk

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