New Legislation for Invasive Alien Species - What you need to know

The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 came in to effect on 1st December 2019. This allows for the enforcement of the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation 1143/2014 on the prevention and management of invasive alien plant and animal species in England and Wales, including the relevant licenses, permits and rules for keeping invasive alien species. The PCA contributed to Defra’s consultation during the summer and is pleased that our thoughts appear to have been taken on board.

Interim Guidance

We provide the below summary, but please be aware this is interim guidance; the final report from Defra has been delayed by the election, so we will follow-up as soon as this is released in early January 2020*.

This Order is similar to existing legislation, but there are a number of changes that apply to regulated species:

  • If it is not a species of Union concern, then the Wildlife & Countryside Act (WAC; Section 14, Schedule 9) still applies
  • Those working with in-scope plants (full list here) need to be aware that the movement of live plants, or propagules, are covered by the Order – so, unless plants, or parts of plants are being moved for the purpose of eradication, then a licence would be needed from Natural England to carry this action out
  • The Order also makes it an offence to: import, keep, breed, place on the market, exchange, allow to grow, cultivate or permit to reproduce and, finally, release into the environment a listed species

Species included under Management Measures

Each member state is also required to implement Management Measures to enable the Control, Containment and Eradication of those species identified as being widely spread in England and Wales – Japanese knotweed is not included (not designated as a Species of Concern within the EU IAS Regulation). Species included under Management Measures** are:

  • Nuttall’s waterweed (Elodea nuttallii)
  • Chilean rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria)
  • Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
  • Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
  • Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)
  • Curly waterweed (Lagarosiphon major)
  • American skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus)
  • Parrot’s feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)

**All of which are included in our Manual “Practical Management of Non-Native Weeds in Britain and Ireland” – available here:

Practical Management of Non-Native Weeds in Britain >> >>

Otherwise, ‘Species of Concern’ not included above but which are known to be present in the UK (e.g. Tree of heaven, Persian Hogweed), will be dealt with under ‘Rapid eradication’ permits.

The government considers that the prohibitions set out in the Order should be treated as seriously as those for the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981: The maximum penalty upon summary conviction is 6 months imprisonment, a fine or both and the maximum penalty for conviction on indictment, is imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, a fine or both.

Does this alter the advice we give to our clients?

Given that the Enforcement Order seems to overlap somewhat with existing IAS legislation in the UK, what has changed? The main changes seem to be:

  • Greater powers for civil and criminal sanctions
  • A range of enforcement measures
  • A greater emphasis on the widely spread species

The Order makes it an offence to breach any of the 7 main prohibitions of the EU Regulation, as it covers many more actions than those covered by WCA offences.

In response, as a community of invasive weed control experts, we should :

  • Be able to both recognise and report on, as a minimum, the ‘widely spread’ species above
  • Make sure our clients are aware of their duties with respect to their own property
  • Provide advice as to how to manage these plants on their land including appropriate biosecurity measures (Table 1 and PCA Manual)
  • Provide advice as to how to prevent our clients land from being invaded by these species
  • Notify enforcement agencies (Police, Natural England/NRW) ‘as appropriate’

Commons Select Committee Report on Alien Species

This development in legislation comes hot on the heels of the Commons Select Committee report on Alien Species. Their report highlighted the need for greater urgency from the government, advocating they should: “…update and enhance its biosecurity public awareness campaigns and put significantly more resources into engaging members of the public, … by training at least two per cent of the population (1.3 million) to become biosecurity volunteers at the same time” (full report here).

If this becomes reality there will surely be a step-change in attitudes to invasive alien species. More publicity about and reporting of IAS can only be a ‘good thing’ for the environment and hopefully lead to a greater opportunities for and appreciation of the specialist skills and competences of our members.

*The full text of the Enforcement Order is here, Defra’s interim response is here and Natural Resources Wales’ here. Separate but similar legislation will follow in Scotland and Northern Ireland.


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