As new legislation puts the spotlight on invasive weeds including Giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, national trade body the Property Care Association (PCA) has brought together the latest guidance on the subject.
Chairman of the PCA’s specialist Invasive Weed Control Group, Professor Max Wade, and fellow senior ecologist Dr Mark Fennell, have shared their expertise to produce guidance covering both species of non-native plant to add to the PCA’s series of briefing notes.
The guidance notes can be viewed at 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
The move comes as these invasive weeds, along with the more widely known Japanese knotweed, are increasingly coming under the spotlight of land remediation, construction, property, surveying and local authority professionals.
This is due in part to the reformed Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, and associated Community Protection Notices, which could be issued to necessitate landowners to deal with Japanese knotweed.
This could see fines of up to £20,000 imposed for companies failing to tackle the problem. Individuals would also be forced to comply too, or face a fine of up to £2,500.
Furthermore, as well as the ASBO legislation, new EU regulations have been introduced which could result in fines of thousands of pounds and prosecution if invasive plants such as these are not managed appropriately and in a timely fashion.
The regulations, which came into effect in January, will empower government agencies to issue Control Orders that necessitate the removal of high risk invasive weed species from specified areas, which could potentially include derelict sites, public land, construction sites and neighbouring properties.
Professor Wade 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 and the guidance documents have been produced to give a comprehensive insight into how to deal with these plants.”
History and identification, the impact of each plant, and details of control methods are all discussed – and further guidance is also offered on the health risks associated with Giant hogweed.
Giant hogweed sap is extremely toxic to the skin in sunlight, making it a serious and significant danger to public health. Contact with any part of the plant, followed by exposure to sunlight, can cause severe blistering to the skin and discomfort.
Himalayan balsam does not have the same health concerns as Giant hogweed, but it is also well-established in the UK and extremely invasive in lowland areas. The plant can spread rapidly on the soft banks of watercourses, where it is the predominant species, excluding native plants and, at two metres tall, in times of flood it can seriously impede water flow in streams and rivers. In winter when the plant dies away, the banks are exposed to erosion.
The two guidance notes are the first of seven new documents being produced this year by the PCA, which tackle a wide-range of issues relating to the invasive weed control sector.
They support a range of initiatives already in place, including a code of practice and an industry-recognised training programme for its professional members and those interested in the biology and control of the plant.
Noted for its training and technical expertise, the PCA incorporates the British Wood Preserving and Damp-proofing Association (BWPDA), and has been in formation for more than 85 years.
The trade body represents the UK’s structural repair sector, as well as the structural waterproofing, wood preservation, damp-proofing, flood protection and invasive weed control industries.
The PCA worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors – supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and The Building Societies Association – together with specialist control companies to develop the Invasive Weed Control Group.