Because Japanese knotweed is such a big problem here in the UK, there are strict laws in place to limit the spread of this invasive plant species. But what exactly are these laws, and when were they introduced?
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Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
The most important piece of British legislation concerning Japanese knotweed is the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states:
"If any person releases or allows to escape into the wild any animal which is of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in and is not a regular visitor to Great Britain in a wild state...he shall be guilty of an offence."
This effectively made it a crime in the UK to release a non-native species like Japanese knotweed into the wild.
Passed in 1981, the Wildlife and Countryside Act has undergone minor amendments on multiple occasions over the past four decades; under the latest rules, offenders may be imprisoned for up to 6 months or fined up to £5,000.
READ MORE: Japanese Knotweed Law in the UK
Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011
The Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 - an amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 - came into force in Scotland on 7th April 2011. It states that:
"Any person who plants, or otherwise causes to grow, any plant in the wild at a place outwith its native range is guilty of an offence."
The 2011 Act supersedes the 1981 Act in Scotland and gives Scottish ministers more control over how the rules are applied.
Stay on the right side of the law!
No matter which part of the UK you call home, it's important to be mindful of the laws surrounding non-native species. If there is Japanese knotweed growing on your property, you are not required to report it or take any specific action, but you will be held responsible if the plant spreads into the wild.
It is best to contact an invasive weed specialist as soon as you find Japanese knotweed (or another non-native plant) on your land. Taylor Total Weed Control is a PCA-registered invasive weed control company specialising in Japanese knotweed removal - get in touch now to request a survey.
View Japanese Knotweed Treatment Plans