New rules that class failing to control Japanese knotweed as ‘anti-social behaviour’ could result in homeowners with the problem plant being fined £2,500.
Homeowners could be stung with fines of up to £2,500 if they allow invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed of giant hogweed to spread from their properties under anti-social behaviour legislation.
The Home Office has published a briefing document on the reform of anti-social behaviour powers, which normally control drunkenness, drug taking and objectionable conduct.
The legislation will target plants which can cause illness, threaten biodiversity or even damage property.
According to a Home Office briefing document: ‘Japanese knotweed, for example can grow through tarmac and can cause structural damage to property, whilst giant hogweed can cause harm to human health.
‘The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 does not explicitly refer to Japanese knotweed or other, similar invasive non-native plants, as the new anti-social behaviour powers are intended to be flexible.
‘However, frontline professionals can stop or prevent any behaviour that meets the legal test in the powers.’
Under the scheme, the legislation can be used to order an individual to prevent the growth and spread of ‘plants that are capable of causing serious problems to communities’.
People who fail to act to stop the spread will be deemed to be acting unreasonably and could face possible sanction.
The Home Office said that local councils or the police have the power to issue notices which can place restrictions on someone’s behaviour – if they are over 16 – or ‘force them to take steps to rectify the behaviour that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life in the community’.
The document states: ‘Breach of any requirement of a community protection notice, without reasonable excuse, would be a criminal offence.’
According to the Home Office, failure to act could leave the homeowner facing a Level 4 fine which is currently set at £2,500.
If a company fails to act they could face a £20,000 fine.
Under the legislation, an individual could complain to the council or the police about an invasive plant in a neighbour’s property which threatens their home or land.