As the Government classes Japanese knotweed as a non-native invasive species, certain legislation exists to make sure it is managed and disposed of in the appropriate manner.
From October 2014 Council officers or police can use community protection notices to "stop or prevent" people from growing Japanese knotweed if it affects their neighbours. The notice can be used to order someone to control or prevent the growth of Japanese knotweed.
Breaching any requirement within a community protection notice is a criminal offence that can result in an on-the-spot penalty of £100 or prosecution that could lead to a £2,500 fine. Organisations could be fined up to £20,000.
As well as this, other legislation dictates how anyone who has Japanese knotweed should manage and dispose of the plant:
Listed under Schedule 9, Section 14 of the Act, it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause the species to grow in the wild.
Japanese knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ and, as such, is subject to very specific disposal regulations. The Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 states that all controlled waste must be disposed of in licensed landfill sites to avoid contaminating any other areas.
The Environmental Protection (duty of care) Act (1990) places responsibility on the person who has generated the waste to ensure that that the waste is disposed of correctly – that the person disposing of it is licensed and that they dispose of it correctly.
The Controlled Waste (registration and seizure of vehicles) Regulations (1991) dictate who is authorised to dispose of controlled waste.
The Hazardous Waste Regulations (2005) stipulate that anyone who generates more than 500kg of hazardous waste in a 12-month period must notify the Environment Agency, and that anyone removing waste from their property must complete a consignment note before doing so.
The Waste Management Licensing Regulations (1994) demand that anyone moving or dispensing of controlled waste must be licensed to do so. It also sets out the criteria for becoming licensed.
The owner of any infestation of knotweed found to be mismanaging or not maintaining the plant to the detriment of a neighbor could be held liable in civil court.
This can include seeking compensation to any damage caused by the plant, recuperation of loss of monetary value on the property and so on.
Current laws mean that any owners of land, whether residential or commercial, must take responsibility for any invasive plant that is on their land.
Owners do not have to remove the plant but they do have to ensure that it does not spread to any other land, whether growing onto neighbouring land or through uprooting and moving.
Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990) provides local authorities with a discretionary power to require landowners to clean up land ‘adversely affecting the amenity of the neighbourhood’, which could be applicable to the control of non-native species such as Japanese Knotweed. Local authorities also have the power to undertake clean-ups themselves and recover costs from the landowner.
The Local Government Act (2000) gives local authorities broad powers to “promote economic, social and environmental well being”. As such, Japanese knotweed could be treated if the impact on the community is deemed substantial enough to have a detrimental effect if left untreated.
Click here to read about the financial implications that come with an infestation of Japanese knotweed.