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Legislation on the Treatment and Disposal of Invasive Weeds Such as Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed
Due to the severe damage that invasive weeds can cause, the government has created legislation in order to safeguard people and the environment from the threats they pose.
- It is not an offence to have Japanese knotweed or any other invasive weeds (listed within this website) on your land and it is not illegal to plant or spread them on your land.
- Allowing Japanese knotweed or other invasive weeds (Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam etc.) to grow from your property onto other people’s property may be regarded as a private nuisance and this would be a civil matter under common law that may result in legal action and financial penalties.
- The new Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 gives local authorities and Police more powers to ensure that invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed are not being mishandled or poorly controlled to the detriment of the community by individuals or companies.
The information below relates to Japanese knotweed in particular and it is relevant for some other invasive weeds depending on which country they are located in within the UK.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA 1981)
Section 14(2) of the 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.” Japanese knotweed is listed in the Schedule.
Anyone convicted of an offence under Section 14 of this Act may face a fine of £5,000 and/or 6 months imprisonment, or 2 years and/or an unlimited fine on indictment.
Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 (asp 6)
Part 2—Wildlife under the 1981 Act
Section 14 Non-native species etc, states:
“(2) Subject to the provisions of this Part, 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.”
Scottish Ministers can issue a species control order which means that the plant must be treated as specified in the control order.
Under Section 14K, if a person fails to carry out the control order or obstruct the work from being done then they are guilty of and offence.
“Any person guilty of an offence under section 14K is liable-
a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding £40,000, or to both;
b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to a fine, or to both.”
NEW LEGISLATION EXPLAINED:
The Government has reformed the The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 in a move to help in the fight against invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed.
What is the issue?
Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and other invasive non-native plants pose a serious risk to native biodiversity in the UK. These non-native species deprive native plants of vital resources such as light and nutrients, leading to damage to the environment. Some non-native species can be destructive; damaging structures and hard surfaces. Others, such as Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), exacerbate the problem of soil erosion beside watercourses because they die-off in winter and leave vast expanses of banking bare and susceptible to being washed away by high water levels.
How can the new powers be used to tackle invasive plants?
The community protection notice can be used against individuals who act act unreasonably in a way that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the vicinity. Although the new powers are designed to be flexible, “the notice can be used to require someone to control or prevent growth of Japanese knotweed or other plants that are capable of causing serious problems to communities.”
Who is authorised to take action against offenders?
Local councils and the police will be be authorised to issue control notices for invasive weeds like Japanese knotweed.
What happens if the notice is ignored or not followed correctly?
Breach of the notice, without a reasonable excuse, would be a criminal offence.
What is punishment for breach of the notice?
A fixed penalty notice (fine of £100) or prosecution are possible outcomes. If convicted, an individual would face a level 4 fine (£2,500). An organisation, such as a company, would face a fine not exceeding £20,000.
I’ve got Japanese knotweed, what should I do?
Contact Invasive Weeds Agency’s team of experts to find out the best treatment programme to sort your Japanese knotweed or other invasive species issue. Call us now on 01383 416 556.
Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990), Part II
Any Japanese knotweed contaminated soil or plantmaterial that to be discarded, intended to be discarded or required to be discarded is likely to be classified as “controlled waste”. It is an offence to deposit, treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste without a licence. If any Japanese knotweed or soil containing Japanese knotweed is taken to landfill either before or after treatment, it must go to a landfill that is authorised to receive it.
Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 as amended (the WMLR 1994)
Section 33 (1c) which makes it an offence to keep,treat or dispose of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution of the environment or harm to human health.
Section 34 places duties on any person who imports, produces, carries, keeps, treats or disposes of controlled waste.
Other Relevant Legislation:
- Environmental Protection (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991 (as amended)
- Hazardous Waste Regulations 2005 (HWR2005)
- Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994
A WEED PROBLEM DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A LIFE-SENTENCE
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