Japanese Knotweed Legislation
The following are the main pieces of legislation covering the handling and disposal of Japanese Knotweed and summarizes the salient points. We would also take the opportunity to remind all involved in selling properties – The Law Society’s TA6 property information form requires sellers to state whether the property is affected by Japanese knotweed. If you answer untruthfully, your buyer can come back to you and either rescind the contract or claim damages from you. We have personally been involved in several disputes, whereby a property has been sold and the previous owner has deliberately concealed any physical evidence of Japanese Knotweed on the property and have clearly lied on the TA6 form. In all cases, the new owners have sought redress.
S. 14(2) of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981)
states that “if any person plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which is included in part II of schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence” (JK is one of the plants listed in the schedule). Anyone convicted of an offence under S.14 of the WCA 1981 may face a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment, or 2 years and/or an unlimited fine on indictment.
The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990)
Contains a number of legal provisions concerning “controlled waste”, which are set out in part II. Any JK contaminated soil or plant material that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard is likely to be classified as controlled waste. In simple terms, it has strict disposal conditions and must be taken to a landfill site designated by the local authority for the area and would require special waste transfer documentation, meaning the ‘carrier’ is required to be in possession of a ‘waste transfer license’. It can not be discarded in conventional green recycling bins!
The Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (HWR 2005)
Similar to the EPA 1990, whilst ‘untreated’ Japanese Knotweed is not considered as HW, any Japanese Knotweed which has been treated with certain herbicides will likely require certain documentation which should contain details about the hazardous properties and any special handling requirements.
The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986
Require any person who uses a pesticide to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of human beings, creatures & plants, safeguard the environment and in particular avoid the pollution of water. For application of pesticides in or near water, approval from the Environment Agency should be sought before use.
Requires any person to take ‘reasonable action’ to contain any plant on their land and recommends that landowners work in co-operation with neighbours whilst retaining a careful record of management. Taking ‘reasonable steps’ (such as control action) to contain any plants is highly likely to provide landowners with clear evidence in the event of any criminal or civil proceedings.
National Infrastructure Act 2015
Introduces much needed powers to control invasive non-native species in England & Wales. The measures provide government agencies in England and Wales with powers to enter into control agreements and, if necessary control orders with landowners to ensure action can be taken against harmful species on their land.