The Law surrounding Japanese Knotweed

In the UK there are two main pieces of legislation that cover Japanese Knotweed.

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Schedule 9, Section 14 of the Act, it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause the species to grow in the wild. Section 14(2) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that if any person plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which is included in Part 2 of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence. Japanese Knotweed is a Schedule 9 listed plant.

Environmental Protection act 1990

Japanese Knotweed is classed as “controlled waste” and as such must be disposed of safely at a licensed landfill site according to the Environmental Protection Act Regulations 1991. Soil containing rhizome material can be regarded as contaminated and, if taken off a site, must be disposed of at a suitably licensed landfill site and buried to a depth of at least 5 metres.

According to the Environmental Protection Act 1990 – EPA – controlled waste, must be disposed of at appropriately licensed landfills. Japanese Knotweed plant material and / or knotweed contaminated soil which you discard, intend to discard or are required to discharge is likely to be classified as controlled waste.

  • Section 33 of the EPA

Section 33 states that it an offence to deposit, treat, keep or dispose of controlled waste without a licence. There are exemptions to waste management licences stated in the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994. The Environment Agency Code of Practice 2006 states in accordance with their Enforcement and Prosecution Policy, failure to have a waste management licence or permit, when dealing with the knotweed growth on site, would not normally be prosecuted if the Agency`s Code is followed.

  • Section 34 of the EPA

Section 34 imposes a duty of care on persons who produce, import, dispose of, or treat controlled wastes. The movement off site of controlled waste must be covered by a waste transfer note. The transfer notes must be completed and signed, giving a written description of the waste and a waste code. This description must be comprehensive enough to allow the receiver of the waste to handle it in accordance with their own duty of care. These provisions are set up in the Environmental Protection Regulations 1991.

Did you know?

An offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act can result in a criminal prosecution. An infringement under the Environmental Protection Act can result in enforcement action being taken by the Environment Agency which can result in an unlimited fine. You can also be held liable for costs incurred from the spread of Knotweed into adjacent properties and for the disposal of infested soil off site during development which later leads to the spread of Knotweed onto another site.