Article: So who is dealing with Japanese Knotweed?

 21st Jun 2017

"If you have not spent the last few years as an off grid root eating hermit you will be aware of the problems caused by Japanese Knotweed.  Recently Insurance Companies have latched onto this aggressive, invasive weed and situations have occurred whereby mortgages have been refused because houses, even with Knotweed only identified next door, have been considered uninsurable.

Put simply, if your neighbour has Japanese Knotweed in their garden your home could essentially be rendered worthless.  Worried? – You should be!

Last year we undertook a tree survey in a nameless southern city. During the course of this survey we noted that our client’s land was being invaded by Japanese Knotweed from the derelict site adjacent.  We widened our search and found that it was also encroaching into somebody else’s rear garden and out onto a highway verge.  Being responsible citizens we informed the Council Tree Officer that our client’s land was being invaded by uncontrolled Japanese Knotweed from a neighbouring site.  Nothing happened and this year it is already spreading further.  So we thought “did we contact the right people?”  Seeking advice, we rang Natural England, but the site is not an SSSI and they were not bothered.  So we tried the Environment Agency.

The Environment Agency was helpful; they directed us to their Knotweed Web Site which included details of control methods and legislation that can enforce removal. They informed us that powers have been granted to Local Authorities and the Police under the Anti Social Behaviour Act to bring negligent landowners to heel and force them to clean up their act.  They suggested that we contact the City Environment Services – so we did.

We asked the City Environment Services people why, a year after the original notification, nothing had happened regarding the invading Knotweed?  They became quite aggressive, they told us it was not their problem and that it was the “Slope shouldered individuals [not the words they used but I have to consider my gentler readers] in Trees”.

So back we went to the Tree Officer, who responded with a screed about how difficult, time consuming and expensive it was to bring prosecutions under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which was why they don’t do it.  We pointed out that this was the reason Parliament had seen fit to give Authorities the power to serve Community Protection Orders under the Anti Social Behaviour Act on people behaving in such a thoughtless manner.  The Tree Officer responded that they did not know how to serve such Orders – so they don’t..."