Japanese Knotweed

June 5, 2014 12:59 pm





JAPANESE KNOTWEED – What’s all the fuss about?

You may have seen Japanese Knotweed mentioned in the press a lot recently, or heard a neighbour talking about this, but what actually is Japanese Knotweed and how does it affect you?

Fallopia japonica, commonly known as Japanese knotweed, is a large, herbaceous plant native to Eastern Asia in Japan, China and Korea. It is one of the world’s most invasive species.

The invasive root system and strong growth can damage concrete foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites. It can grow to 3-4m in just 10 weeks – the equivalent of two grown adults. Underground, its roots – or rhizomes – can spread 7m horizontally and compromise the structure of buildings.

The plant is resilient to cutting, vigorously resprouting from the roots. The most effective method of control is by herbicide application close to the flowering stage in late summer or autumn. To eradicate the plant the roots need to be killed.

The cost of eradication is dependent upon the size of the problem. For a small plant the cost can be a little as £300 per treatment, carried out twice a year for the next two years. He warns against what was his initial temptation – ripping it out and binning it: You can face a massive fine or even imprisonment if it isn’t disposed of at a landfill site, or incinerated. And if you don’t do it properly, it will definitely come back.

Will it affect me if I have Japanese Knotweed on my land?

It is not an offence to have Japanese knotweed on your land and it is not a notifiable weed. However, under Section 14(1) and (2), of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is a criminal offence to plant Japanese knotweed or otherwise cause it to grow in the wild.

It is a defence to a prosecution to prove that all reasonable steps were taken and all due diligence was exercised by the landowner.

The removal, eradication and disposal of the weed may be expensive but given that the presence of it can impede the sale of your property and/or affect the value, a least-risk approach would be to have it removed by licensed contractors and properly disposed of.

What if my neighbour has Japanese Knotweed on their land?

Again, it is not an offence for Japanese knotweed to be present on your neighbour’s land but allowing it to encroach onto your property may constitute a private nuisance under common law.

A landowner affected by knotweed growth from a neighbouring property may therefore be able to apply to court for an injunction requiring the neighbouring owner to abate the nuisance. Such a claim can also include a sum of money in damages to reflect the cost of any physical damage to the property and/or the diminution in value of the landowner’s property as a result of the nuisance.

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like to discuss this issue further, telephone us on 01522 687500 or email enquiries@pagenelson.co.uk