Have you spotted Japanese knotweed on your property and are worried you may be breaking the law by doing so? Well, don't worry, because it IS NOT a criminal offence to have Japanese knotweed on your property.
Knotweed & the Law
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 section 114 (2) (WCA 1981) Japanese knotweed is classed as a controlled plant. Therefore, it is not illegal to have knotweed on your property, but it is against the law to cause or allow the plant to spread in the wild.
In the eyes criminality, you will not be seen to be breaking the law until Japanese knotweed from your land spreads into another person's property or onto public land. As knotweed is such a rapid grower, it is usually only a matter of time before this happens and your troubles worsen.
To ensure that you're not held accountable a few years down the line should you wish to legally build on land with Japanese knotweed present, you will need to follow a few steps. It's vital that the plant is taken into consideration in the planning process and that every effort is made to remove the plant and prevent it from further spreading.
What to do if you find Japanese knotweed on your property?
If you happen to find Japanese knotweed on your property, then you should take extreme care to isolate the area and establish how much of your property has been affected by the plant. Next, you will need to determine where the plant came from and the extent to which the plant impacts your property.
The best and easiest way of doing this is to get a professional evaluation made. A professional evaluation and survey will be able to tell you what you need to know and give you a better idea of the actions that you'll need to take to eradicate the knotweed infestation.
Do you have to notify anyone about Japanese knotweed?
As we have mentioned above, it is not a criminal offence to have Japanese knotweed on your property and it is also NOT a notifiable weed. If you allow knotweed to spread to neighbouring properties, it may be seen as a private nuisance under common law, but this would be a civil matter. The Environment Agency is responsible for regulating waste.
If you do happen to discover a knotweed infestation on your property, you are not legally required to declare it to the authorities. Despite is being illegal to let the plant spread from outside of your land, you are not required to declare the presence of Japanese knotweed to your neighbours or authorities. The only time you should really declare the presence of Japanese knotweed openly is when you are planning to sell your property. A knotweed-specific question is included in the majority of pre-contract enquiry questionnaires, which are based on the Law Society's TA6 Form. Click below to learn more about this form.
TA6 Form >
If you happen to purchase a property that is infested with Japanese knotweed with the understanding that no knotweed was, in fact, present on the land, then you may be able to seek legal action against the seller who may have lied about their knowledge of knotweed being present.
So, in short, it is NOT a criminal offence to have Japanese knotweed on your property, but it is an offence to allow it to spread if you have knowledge of an infestation or if you sell a property with knowledge of an infestation. You do NOT have to declare knowledge of an infestation to neighbours or your local council. We hope that this article has helped to clear up any worries or concerns that you may have surrounding criminal offences and Japanese knotweed.
If you believe that you have a Japanese knotweed infestation on your property and would like professionals such as us here at Taylor Total Weed Control to come out and examine it, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today by completing the contact form below.