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Japanese knotweed legislation

Japanese knotweed is one of many invasive plants that are strictly regulated in the UK. So what exactly are the laws and Regulations surrounding it? If Japanese Knotweed is growing on your property, what action should you take? 

What legislation is there to control Japanese knotweed

There are 4 main pieces of legislation* that may apply to Japanese Knotweed in a residential setting. They are:

  • The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
  • Waste Regulations (Environmental Protection Scotland Regulations 2014, Waste: England and Wales regulations 2011, Waste Regulations:Northern Ireland) 2011)
  • Waste Management Licensing Regulations (England and Wales: Environmental Permitting Regulations 2016, Scotland: Waste Management Licensing Regulations 2011, Northern Ireland: Waste Management Licensing Regulations 2003)
  • The Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014

Your legal obligations around Japanese knotweed

Firstly, let us be clear, having Japanese knotweed on your land is not in and of itself a breach of any laws (unless you are specifically required to control it under a Community Protection Notice).

However, it is important to understand that you would be breaking the law if you:

  • Caused the Japanese knotweed (on your property) to spread to the wild
    • This would contravene the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 (as amended)
      allowing the plant to spread from your property to adjacent properties/ land may not contravene the W&C Act but could be an actionable nuisance under Common law
    • NOTE: Japanese knotweed can spread underground up to 7m from the above ground shoots/canes but more typically 1- 3m.
  • Dig up/cut down and then removed the plant from your property without appropriate licences
    • Japanese knotweed rhizomes and green canes are classed as ‘propagules’ and as such are deemed to be Controlled waste and may only be transported off-site by licenced carriers (under the ‘Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994’)
    • If the knotweed waste and contaminated soil is taken to a licensed landfill site, this can be expensive!
    • Dumping/Disposing of it elsewhere would contravene both the Environment Protection Act 1990 and the Wildlife & Country Act.


Community Protection Notices & Japanese knotweed

Local councils and the police have the power to issue Community Protection Notices against “individuals who are acting unreasonably and who persistently or continually act in a way that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality”. This includes the potential nuisance arising from invasive non-native species like Japanese Knotweed. 

Being issued with a Community Protection Notice could require an individual, property owner or organisation to:

  • make reasonable efforts to make good any problems arising as a result of Japanese knotweed within a specified period of time
  • take reasonable steps to prevent future occurrence of the problem

Breaching any requirement of a Community Protection Notice, without reasonable excuse, maybe a criminal offense resulting in a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.  If convicted, an individual may be liable to a level 4 fine; an organisation, such as a company, maybe liable to a fine not exceeding £20,000

Removal & Treatment of Knotweed

Homeowner guidance towards the treatment & removal of Japanese Knotweed.

Find out more

Identifying Japanese Knotweed

Unsure if you have Japanese Knotweed on your land?  Visit our guide on how to ID Knotweed

Find out more

More about Japanese Knotweed

Looking to find out more about Japanese Knotweed.  Visit our Knotweed hub page

Find out more

Still a bit unsure? Need a little more help?

If you suspect Japanese knotweed may be creeping onto your land or if you are simply just unsure and would like to speak to someone, many of our PCA invasive weed specialists will be happy to assist. By taking some photographs or short videos, most of our members will be happy to offer guidance and information via the phone.  Alternatively, if need be, they will also be happy to assist with a site survey, and where necessary, advice regarding regulations and legal requirements.

To find a local Japanese knotweed specialist near you, simply run a search for PCA invasive weed specialists using the tool below. 

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