Guidance issued recently by the Home Office has said that people can be fined up to £2,500 and face criminal prosecution under new antisocial behaviour laws, for failing to control the spread of Japanese Knotweed in their gardens. This invasive plant has been named along with Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed. Companies may face fines of up to £20,000. This new guidance specifically targets residential areas which will allow neighbours to report each other if the plant is invading their garden.
The Home Office has said that ‘these plants threaten our native biodiversity by crowding out native species and destabilising riverbanks. They can also cause damage to forestry, agriculture and infrastructure sectors.’
Japanese Knotweed is notoriously difficult to get rid of. It can grow through fences, tarmac and cause structural damage to properties. Giant hogweed is toxic to humans and can cause skin diseases, blisters and even blindness.
Amy Leung, Trainee Solicitor says, “The cost of eradicating the plant in Britain has been estimated at more than £1.25 billion and clearing the weed from the ten acres of the London Olympic site cost more than £70 million.” Scientists are carrying out field tests on secret sites to see if psyllids (insects that devour Japanese Knotweed but do not harm other crops or flowers) will help to control the spread of the plant.
Homeowners and companies who ignore orders to control Japanese Knotweed will be deemed to have committed a criminal offence and will be fined accordingly. Council officers and police can use community notices to ‘stop or prevent’ people from growing it. Home Office guidance states that ‘breach of any requirement of a community protection notice, without reasonable excuse, will be a criminal offence.’
We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Conveyancing and Commercialteams also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Amy or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.