The government’s pledges to act to tackle Japanese knotweed were published last Friday as part of its response to the Science and Technology Committee's report into Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), a non-native invasive species.
Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to plant or allow knotweed to escape or cause it to grow in the wild. Last year, several landmark cases were brought against landowners in the courts, who failed to prevent knotweed escaping onto neighbouring properties, including a £31,000 fine for Network Rail and an £18,000 fine for a Bristol firm under anti social behaviour legislation.
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (c.69)
08 May 2018
To help deal with the ongoing threat of knotweed, the Environment Agency will convene a meeting with the major national Japanese knotweed remediation firms to explore how a national dataset could be assembled and how companies could contribute to this on an ongoing basis. The Property Care Association (PCA) and the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA) will meet with the EA to begin this process in early autumn 2019, the government said.
DEFRA said it will also commission a study on international approaches to Japanese knotweed in the context of property sales and report by the end of the year.
Consultants Environet estimates that approximately 850,000 to 900,000 UK households are currently affected by knotweed, suffering an average reduction in property value of around 10%. This equates to almost £20 billion reduction in property values, according to the consultancy.
But according to the committee’s own report published earlier this year, the current industry approach to knotweed is ‘overly cautious’. The committee concluded that more academic research is needed into the plant’s effects on the built environment.