What are my legal obligations around Japanese Knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is definitely a garden pest and one which is best removed as soon as possible. However, it is up to you as the landowner to decide what to do. Provided it doesn’t spread onto nearby gardens and land, the owner is actually under no legal obligation to have their Japanese knotweed removed.
Under UK law, if a landowner “cause or allow the growth of Japanese knotweed [controlled plants]” then they are liable under not only the Wildlife and Countryside Act, but the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 and the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
Failure to use a licensed operative, such as Japanese Knotweed Specialists, could leave you liable to prosecution should you be in breach of the following:
- Legalisation and Code of Practices currently covering Japanese knotweed
- EA Knotweed Code of Practice (Managing Knotweed on Development Sites)
- CA code of practice for the management of Japanese Knotweed
Is Japanese knotweed illegal?
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild. So, if you allow Japanese knotweed to spread from your land, you may wind up facing a fine of £5,000, or even a prison sentence, since this Japanese knotweed law can be enforced by both the police and local authorities.
What Japanese knotweed legislation is there?
There are five main laws that cover Japanese knotweed, or contain regulations that would affect the growth, disposal or control of knotweed. These are:
- The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
- Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
- The Environment Protection Act 1990
- Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005
- Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994
Japanese Knotweed Legislation
The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
In 2014, an amendment was added to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act which meant that anyone who knowingly let knotweed spread into neighbouring land or did not control it on theirs could be fined. A fixed penalty notice (fine of £100) or prosecution are possible outcomes. If convicted, an individual would face a level 4 fine (£2,500). An organisation, such as a company, would face a fine not exceeding £20,000.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
Section 14(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 states “If any person plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which is included in part 2 of schedule 9, he shall be guilty of offence.” Japanese knotweed is listed in this schedule and included within this legislation. Anyone convicted under section 14 of this act is liable to a fine of £5000 and/or 6 months’ imprisonment, or 2 years and/or an unlimited fine on indictment.
The Environment Protection Act 1990
This extensive legislation covers all areas of ‘controlled waste’ which includes Japanese knotweed soil and plant material. Failure to follow the guidelines set out by this legislation, including not having the correct licences to treat Japanese knotweed, can lead to prosecution.
Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005
Although Japanese Knotweed is not covered by this legislation specifically, when certain residual herbicides are used, it then becomes hazardous and falls under this legislation. Failure to abide by this legislation will lead to prosecution.
Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994
This act states that waste must be recovered and disposed of “without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment and in particular risk to water, soil, plants or animals or cause nuisance through noise, or odours or adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest.” While it does not specifically reference knotweed, when treated with glyphosate or not destroyed, it becomes a danger to other plants, and the plants and soil must be treated as contaminated.
Japanese Knotweed Code of Practice
While the government’s code of practice is now defunct, as of 2016, the Property Care Association (PCA), which we are accredited by, have a code of practice on the Management of Japanese Knotweed. As a PCA accredited company, and member of the PCA Invasive Weeds Group, we follow this best practice code.
It includes regulations for the services we provide, the guarantees we offer and the advice we give. Codes of practice for knotweed keep consumers and businesses protected and ensures that the services provided by Japanese Knotweed Specialists are regulated.