The danger Japanese Knotweed poses to biodiversity has been well publicised, and now a change to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act gives regulatory powers the right to fine those who refuse to act upon knotweed infestations.
Inaccurate reports have stated ASBOs could be given to homeowners failing to control the spread of Japanese Knotweed, however the fine (that could be up to £2500) would be part of a new system that differentiates criminal behaviour orders, and ASBOS, from the protection of places.
The new system means that Local Authorities and the police can serve Community Protection Notices (CPN) to ‘stop a person aged 16 or over, business or organisation committing anti-social behaviour which spoils the community’s quality of life.’ The refusal to act upon Japanese Knotweed is now considered a part of this, and means CPNs could be given to those not checking the growth of invasive species.
Legal tests would be needed before such a notice could be given, and the size of the plant, its distance from neighbouring properties and the likelihood of damage would also be taken into consideration.
These notices can be carried out without going through a court, unlike ASBOs, and would demand a specific action to be carried out before a fine is issued. These fines for organisations could be up to, but not exceed, £20,000.
This is an obvious worry for the financial backers of developments, as the discovery of Knotweed can already cause lenders and banks to back out of agreements. However, this is a positive step in eradicating Japanese Knotweed from our country, as it will force property owners to get rid of the species as soon as it is found, rather than wait for an impending CPN and fine.
Scientists are currently aiming to eliminate the alien plant by potentially introducing a small insect from Japan that keeps the plant under control in its native county. In the meantime, if you are worried about an unusual plant on your development, call our specialist ecology team for help.
Here are the signs that you have Japanese Knotweed:
1. Fleshy red tinged shoots
2. Large, heart or spade-shaped green leaves
3. Leaves in a zig-zag pattern
4. Hollow stem, like bamboo
5. Dense clumps that can be several metres deep
6. Cream flowers in July
7. Dies back between September and November, leaving hollow brown standing stems.
To find out more about Japanese Knotweed and the affect it can have on development, contact Alex Brearley on 01638 663226 or email firstname.lastname@example.org