The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 made it an offence to “plant or otherwise cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild.” This also applies to other invasive weeds too! Under the act you can be prosecuted if it is found that you have indeed caused the plant to spread from your property in to the wild. Prosecution in a Magistrates court can lead to either a maximum fine of £5,000 or 6 months in prison, or a combination. However, if taken to Crown court there is no maximum for the fine but a maximum of 2 years in prison can be enforced.
However, it is not an offence to have Japanese knotweed present on your land. Nevertheless, it may become a nuisance to neighbouring property if it spreads from within your boundaries in to theirs and they do have the right to ask you to have it eradicated as it will pose a risk to their home and sale of it should they be in the process of selling. As you can imagine, some neighbours are reluctant to act because to them, it isn’t a problem (for now.) The best way to approach this situation is to discuss options such as sharing responsibility for the cost of treatment.
If they’re reluctant to work with you…
A newer power has been introduced in the form of an ASBO if you are “failing to act” in regards to controlling Japanese knotweed
“Local councils and the police (in most cases it will be the local council) will have the power to issue notices for invasive non-native species like Japanese knotweed. The notice can place restrictions on a person’s behaviour (in the case of an individual, as long as they are aged 16 or over) and, if necessary, force them to take steps to rectify the behaviour that is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the community. This means if an individual, or organisation, is not controlling Japanese knotweed or other invasive plant and could be reasonably expected to do so, the notice could be used after a mandatory written warning has been served beforehand to get them to stop the anti-social behaviour. The notice would state what behaviour or action is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the local community.”
If you breach the terms of the notice then you are likely to be prosecuted or fined £100. However if you’re a business then you could be fined up to £20,000.
If you notice Japanese knotweed of any other invasive weed in your area or near your land then report it immediately to your local authority and see how they can deal with it. If YOU have Japanese knotweed or other invasive weeds then to stick within the law at all times, the best course of action, is for you to firstly have a survey conducted by professionals, like us and then let us advise you further.