Tangled: Japanese Knotweed

Invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed can pose a serious threat to biodiversity, the economy, and human health.

Japanese Knotweed infestations can cause neighbour disputes leading to the issuing of anti-social behaviour orders, boundary disputes, and property disputes.

Else Solicitors’s Dispute Resolution team are experts at handling legal issues related to Japanese Knotweed and other invasive plants.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese Knotweed is a non-native invasive plant and like others including Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed can “threaten our native biodiversity by crowding out native species and destabilising river banks. They can also cause damage to forestry, agriculture and infrastructure sectors”.

Japanese Knotweed can grow through tarmac and can cause structural damage to property. Individuals, businesses or organisations have a legal responsibility to prevent certain invasive non-native plants or injurious weeds on their premises spreading into the wild or on to neighbouring land.

Problems with Japanese Knotweed Removal

The problem with Japanese Knotweed removal is that its root system is:

  • Extensive – the rhizome root system typically grows to 3m in depth and 7m in all other directions;
  • Hidden – the plant rises up high (as much as 3 or 4m) at one location and then (from the same root system) a further shoot can rise up to 15m away;
  • Resilient – a new shoot can easily sprout from a small section of rhizome (as little as 0.7 g).

This makes digging it up highly risky as:

  1. You will most likely leave some of the rhizome behind which will rapidly re-grow.
  2. It is highly likely that you will break the rhizome and a small piece may spread onto neighbouring land.

It is for these reasons that Japanese Knotweed disposal should be done by professionals.

If you think that you (or your neighbours) have an infestation, the first thing you should do is obtain legal advice and obtain a specialist survey to determine if the weed is Japanese Knotweed.

How our dispute resolution solicitors can help

Failure to dispose of plants like Japanese Knotweed effectively and safely can leave homeowners or companies facing substantial fines. Some individuals may face two years in prison for Japanese Knotweed offences, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you have an issue with a neighbour who has an invasive plant that has encroached onto your land, then we can help establish their liability and failure to control the plant. Our dispute resolution solicitors can take legal action on your behalf and force your neighbour to deal with the Japanese Knotweed. In these cases you can often recover costs for the damage caused and your legal fees.

Similarly, if you are concerned that you have Japanese Knotweed growing on your property we can represent you or your company and help protect your liability. Properties situated next to and along railway lines, rivers and canals are often the worst affected, along with large expansions of land that have been left unattended for substantial periods of time.

Japanese Knotweed removal can be a challenging process. You cannot simply cut it down. We can recommend invasive plant removal specialists that can put an end to the infestation on your land. We are also able to attend site visits to monitor and document the status of these invasive plants and check to see whether they are flowering.

If you would like to discuss your case, please contact Andy Rudkin on andy.rudkin@elselaw.co.uk or 01283 526239.

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