Trade body urges vigilance as growth season begins for Japanese knotweed

[March 2017]

As spring emerges the Property Care Association is urging landowners to be vigilant to the emergence of Japanese knotweed.

Members of the PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group across the UK are being called out to investigate the emergence of Japanese knotweed’s distinctive red stems.

While the growing season for Japanese knotweed begins in April, there are reports of the plant already beginning to grow.

The presence of the destructive plant can devalue land and property and lead to the refusal of mortgages on properties affected by it and the PCA is urging caution in tackling it.

Steve Hodgson, PCA chief executive, said: “We’ve already had reports from our members of the plant starting to grow.

“Japanese knotweed is significant for many reasons, but it is just a plant.  We are taking all steps necessary to ‘normalise’ it, so it is viewed in the same way as any other type of property problem, in that it can be identified and treated, with minimal impact.

“However, its effective eradication is a job for the experts, so it’s vitally important for anyone who thinks they might have an issue to seek advice.”

The PCA says that the start of the growth season is an important consideration for landowners in light of a landmark court ruling earlier this year, which saw Network Rail ordered to pay compensation for damage caused to homes by the invasive weed spreading from its land.

Neighbours in South Wales sued the rail giant after claiming Japanese knotweed growing on a railway embankment had spread to the foundations of their nearby homes.

The Government body was ordered to pay compensation along with the cost of treating the issue.

Steve Hodgson, chief executive of the PCA said: “This case could encourage more homeowners to take similar action and other landowners should be aware of the potential for problems.

“The situation puts the onus squarely on landowners to control and remediate any issues, particularly near houses, as soon as they come to light.

“As a result, with the growth season for Japanese knotweed now in place, it is important that advice is sought quickly to control and manage the situation effectively.”

The PCA’s Invasive Weed Control Group signposts the public and private sectors to professional specialist invasive weed control contractors and consultants. The Association, which has been in formation for more than 85 years, worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) – supported by the Council of Mortgage Lenders and The Building Societies Association – together with Japanese knotweed control companies that currently operate within the UK, to set up the group in 2012.

Mr Hodgson added: “Invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed pose risks to the environment, water industry and transport infrastructure.

“They are growing in number and the legislation surrounding their control is becoming more complicated.

“Over the years, the Invasive Weed Control Group has provided a membership with the expertise to control and manage invasive species offering high levels of technical knowledge and practical skill.

“The group’s experience and best practice approach means it is well-placed to deal with the challenges ahead – offering a level headed, co-ordinated and effective means to control invasive weeds across the UK.”

More information:

A video regarding the challenges for landowners in tackling invasive weeds is now available to view at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuHzVzgyV_E

A full list of companies in the Invasive Weed Control group is also available in the ‘Find A Specialist’ section on the PCA website and more details on Japanese knotweed are available via www.property-care.org/homeowners/invasive-weed-control