As May and June marks the start of the growing season for Japanese Knotweed in the UK, new legislation has put the spotlight on invasive weeds and the national trade body, Property Care Association (PCA) have issued guidance in relation to them. The guidance can be viewed here http://www.property-care.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Guidance-Note-Giant-Hogweed.pdf and http://www.property-care.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/PCA-Guidance-Note-on-Himalayan-Balsam-Control.pdf
Japanese Knotweed can grow up to one metre per month and is a common problem for homeowners, as it restricts visibility and increases the risk of flooding. It is estimated that the removal and treatment of Japanese Knotweed is costing the economy approximately £150 million each year and is a threat to residential property prices.
Alongside Japanese Knotweed, other weeds that are currently becoming an issue include Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam. Giant Hogweed sap can be extremely dangerous to the skin when exposed to sunlight and the skin can remain very sensitive to UV light for years afterwards. Himalayan Balsam is not such a health risk, however, it is very invasive in low lying areas. The plant prefers areas near water and when flood risk is high, the plant can spread to two metres high which has serious consequences to water flow in rivers and streams.
The new legislation has been introduced through the reformed Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 which can be used to ensure landowners deal with Japanese Knotweed. Under the new legislation, fines of up to £20,000 could be issued to a company for failing to deal with the issue and up to £2,000 to an individual if the problem is ignored.
As well as this legislation, EU regulations came into force in January 2015 which grant powers to government agencies to issue Control Orders that require the removal of very invasive weeds from an area. The land includes but is not restricted to public land, abandoned and derelict sites, development sites and their neighbouring properties.
Professor Max Wade, Chairman of the Property Care Association’s Invasive Weed Control Group has said, “As a result of these developments there has been a big shift in the number of property professionals wanting to get a bigger picture on the impact and implications of Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam. These invasive non- native plants are likely to become as significant as Japanese Knotweed”.
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