The Law in England and Wales

Awareness of Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia Japonica) in the UK has become significantly widespread in recent years. In part, this is a result of the increased growth and impact of Japanese knotweed.

It is also due to the role that media attention has had to play in raising the public’s awareness. The ease that Japanese Knotweed is spread, the alarming degree of its subterranean rhizome system and the incredible destruction it may cause are well acknowledged in environmental groups. However, less appreciated and understood by the general public are the potential legal implications that a Japanese Knotweed infestation brings with it.

Here we will discuss the potential issues that you need to be aware of.

Japanese knotweed and the law
DEFRA – “The Wild”

DEFRA defines “the wild” as “The diverse range of natural and semi-natural habitats and their associated wild native flora and fauna in the rural and urban environments in general. This can also be broadly described as the general open environment.”

However, whether an introduction (release or escape) is into “the wild” may well be dependent on the ecology of the species in question and the potentially affected environment: as such; what constitutes the wild must be judged on a case-by-case. Basically, outside….



Schedule 9 Wildlife and countryside Act 1981

It is an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow schedule 9 species (Japanese knotweed is classed as a schedule 9 species) in the wild, punishable by fines or imprisonment.

If it can be shown that a schedule 9 plant has spread from a landowners property onto another property, then the landowner could be considered responsible for any damage caused and the costs of control.

However, if landowners take all reasonable steps and exercise all due diligence to avoid spreading the plant, then they will be better protected against prosecution.

In order to reduce the potential of fines/prosecution, landowners should have a management plan for schedule 9 species on their property and be able to show that they are following it.

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The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Waste containing any part of a schedule 9 plant that could facilitate the spread of the species is classified as controlled waste and should be disposed of in a suitable waste facility, accompanied by appropriate Waste Transfer documentation!

You cannot just dispose of Japanese knotweed by putting it in the bin nor can you take it to the local waste management site.

All producers, carriers and waste facilities have a duty of care to ensure that the waste is handled and treated properly.

Knotweed Services UK can legally and correctly dispose of your Japanese Knotweed during the treatment and control process. This takes all the pressure away from the landowner.

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“FACT: It is a criminal offence to plant or cause to grow a non-native invasive species that is listed on Schedule 9 in the wild which carries penalties of up to £5,000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.”Royal Horticultural Society https://www.rhs.org.uk
Control of pesticides regulations 1986

These regulations 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.

Any person involved in the professional application of herbicides should possess the appropriate pesticides certificate of competence for the safe use of herbicide and hand-held herbicide applicators e.ge NPTG Level 2 award in the safe use of pesticides PA1 and PA6a/raw.

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Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994

Waste should be recovered or disposed of “without endangering human health and without using proceses or methods which could harm the environment and in particular without:

  • risk to water
  • Air
  • Soil
  • Plants or animals
  • Causing nuisance through noise or odours
  • Adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.

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Hazardous Waste regulations 2005

The regulations contain provisions about the handling and movement of hazardous waste. Consignment notes must be completed when any hazardous waste is transferred, which include details about the hazardous properties and any special handling requirements.

Untreated Japanese Knotweed is not classed as hazardous waste, but material containing knotweed which has been treated with certain herbicides may be classified as hazardous waste.

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Common Law

If a neighbour allows Japanese Knotweed (or other Schedule 9 listed species) to encroach onto your property, it may constitute a private nuisance under common law.

If fault is clear, property owners affected by Japanese Knotweed growth from a neighbouring property may be able to apply to court for an injunction requiring the owner of the property to prevent the nuisance.

Such claims can also include a sum of money in damages relating to control, physical damage to property and/or devaluation of property.


Crime and Policing Act 2014

Guidance has recently been released by the Home Office providing information on the reformed Anti Social Behaviour (ASBO), Crime and Policing Act 2014.

The updated legislation means that if a neighbour “fails to act” regarding controlling or preventing the growth of Japanese Knotweed, then a Community Protection Notice can be issued requiring action to be taken.

Breach of any requirement of a Community Protection Notice, without reasonable excuse, would be a criminal offence, subject to a fixed penalty notice (which attracts a penalty of £100) or prosecution. On summary conviction, an individual would be liable to a level 4 fine (£2500). An organisation, such as a company, is liable to a fine not exceeding £20,000.

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Knotweed Services UK are fully complicit with all the laws listed above. We can safely and legally carry out methods to both control and dispose of Japanese Knotweed.

Some of the people we have helped…