Japanese Knotweed is an invasive weed that originates from Japan. It is extremely fast-growing and can cause serious damage to the environment and properties in the area. There are a number of laws and regulations that have been introduced regarding the control, growth, and moving of Japanese Knotweed, designed to protect the environment, homeowners, and businesses. Council and housing associations have a legal responsibility to follow these laws and regulations.
Japanese knotweed made its way to the UK in 1850. It originates from Japan, but is also native to Korea and China. In its native countries, knotweed is kept under control by natural predators. These include insects, fungi, and other plants.
Japanese knotweed was brought to the UK by a Bavarian botanist by the name of Philip von Siebold. At that time, botanists would fund their trips by sending the plants they found back to European nurseries. These would be cultivated and sold to botanical gardens or commercial nurseries.
It was popular at that time because it grew so well and so quickly, was easy to cultivate and sell to enthusiastic gardeners. This wasn’t the only way it spread across the UK. It spread on its own and soon began populating river banks, along roads, and railway tracks.
The plant was given free rein to spread across the whole of the UK for more than 100 years. It wasn’t until 1981 that it was identified as an invasive species.
Japanese knotweed is very similar to a number of other common plants found in England, but there are some telltale signs you should be looking out for. In the summer, the leaves of the plant are green, broad, and shaped like a shield. The stems are reddish in colour and hollow, much like bamboo. In the winter, it dies back and the stems become brown and very brittle.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Japanese knotweed is classed as a controlled plant. It’s not illegal for there to be Japanese knotweed on council land or for it to grow on properties managed by a council or housing association. However, allowing or causing the plant to spread in the wild is against the law.
Council or housing association property or land which is affected by Japanese knotweed has to be carefully controlled and managed. Failure to control this invasive weed could lead to prosecution. If it is found to be within 7m of adjacent land, for example, adjacent properties are deemed to be affected and a claim could be made against the council or housing association.
Tenants also have a responsibility to regularly inspect their gardens and inform the housing association or council if they suspect or identify knotweed on their property.
If Japanese knotweed is left to spread without treatment, it will severely damage the local environment, killing native plants. Damage to property and footings can also take place, because the roots can grow as deep as 6 metres. If this happens, not only will the council or housing association be responsible for removing Japanese knotweed, there will also be the added cost of repairs.
It is therefore in the best interests of the council or housing association to enlist the help of experts in housing development invasive weed removal, when removing Japanese knotweed.
Japanese knoweed control is notoriously difficult. Removing Japanese knotweed is also a hard thing to do. It has been described as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive, and invasive plant” by the UK’s Environment Agency. Not only does it have a negative effect on the environment and economic impacts, but it can also affect residential property sales.
There are many different methods that can be used when removing Japanese knotweed. The most common is to use a glyphosate herbicide. However, high dosages are required and several applications. Even then, it may take a few seasons to remove it completely. Another problem with using a herbicide is that it doesn’t always reach deep enough to kill off the large root system. If this treatment is successful in killing the plant, the surrounding soil may still contain small pieces of rhizome, which can easily grow again. The only way to guarantee it doesn’t return is to excavate the soil and take it away.
If you suspect you’ve got a problem on council or housing association land, the best solution is to call in the experts. Japanese Knotweed Specialists have extensive experience in effectively eradicating all traces of knotweed from housing developments. We also have experience in working in harmony alongside housing associations and councils to provide extensive and effective treatment and removal.