Be careful what you grow in your garden

BBC Breakfast News ran a story on this week about Japanese Knotweed and that property owners could now be fined if they do not deal with an infestation on their property. We thought you might like some additional information.

The new Government guidance advises that Council Officers and police will have the power to issue Community Protection Notices for “invasive non-native species”. So it’s not just Japanese Knotweed. It could be giant hogweed or Himalayan balsam for example.

Community Protection Notices (CPN) are more usually in the news with regard to anti-social behaviour but now the scope of anti-social behaviour is being widened.

Since 1981 it has been an offence to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" Japanese Knotweed and other plants listed in Schedule nine, Part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The Act states that while it’s not against the law to have it on your land, you cannot cause it to spread. So the new guidance now allows councils to address infestations on private property using CPN’s

The Environment Agency described Japanese Knotweed as "indisputably the UK's most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant".

Japanese Knotweed was introduced into Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant and has become widespread in a range of habitats, including roadsides, riverbanks and derelict buildings.

It can grow 10cm a day, spreading via its underground stems through concrete and tarmac, damaging buildings and roads, exploiting weakness in building structures.

Rhizome segments can remain dormant in soil for twenty years before producing new plants.

Estimates by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC) show at least one infestation in every 10 sq kms in the UK

If a contractor removes knotweed waste, they must be registered with the Environmental Agency as a waste carrier. Legislation states that Japanese Knotweed is classed as controlled waste and therefore must be taken to a licensed landfill site. If not disposed of correctly may lead to prosecution under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990.

DEFRA estimated the cost of a national eradication programme to be in the region of £1.56 billion, and has contributed funding to scientific research into its natural control.

It can affect mortgage approvals. If a bank's valuer finds evidence of it, or there is a history of it in the area, a specialist survey will be required. Some lenders will decline mortgage applications on properties where knotweed is present, while others will consider it, with guarantees or an indemnity in place, and be guided by a surveyor.

So be aware of what is growing in your garden because if its a certian type of plant the consequences could be expensive.