It was recently reported that a plot holder was taking cuttings and planting Japanese knotweed on site. This proved to be true and the plot holder was asked to remove it. I have posted this article to remind all plot holders not to follow suit and to read the following which explains why.
What is Japanese knotweed?
Japanese knotweed is a fast-growing and strong clump-forming perennial, with tall, dense annual stems. Stem growth is renewed each year from the stout, deeply-penetrating rhizomes (creeping underground stems).
In spring, reddish-purple fleshy shoots emerge from crimson-pink buds at ground level. These grow rapidly, producing in summer, dense stands of tall bamboo-like canes which grow to 2.1m (7ft) tall. These canes have characteristic purple flecks, and produce branches from nodes along its length.
Leaves are heart or shovel-shaped and up to 14cm (5½in) in length and borne alternately (in a zig zag pattern) along the stems. The stems die back to ground level in winter, but the dry canes remain for several months or longer.
The creamy-white flower tassels produced in late summer and early autumn reach up to 15cm (6in).
Although it rarely sets seed in this country, Japanese knotweed can sprout from very small sections of rhizomes. Under the provisions made within Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild.
Fly tipping should be reported to The Environment Agency, free-phone number 0800 807060.
The legal situation
Buying and selling property
Since 2013, the seller is required to state whether Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is present on their property through a TA6 form – the property information form used for conveyancing. Your conveyancer or solicitor will be able to provide full legal advice, however, here is a summary:
- If you are selling, it is your responsibility to check the garden for Japanese knotweed (bearing in mind that it can die back in winter). The TA6 form asks you to confirm whether your property is affected by Japanese knotweed and, where it is, to provide a management plan for its eradication from a professional company (see Seeking Help from the Professionals below)
- If you are buying, the presence of Japanese knotweed will be stated in the responses to the TA6 form. This often results in your mortgage lender requiring assurances that it will be eradicated before agreeing the funds. A management plan by a professional eradication company, backed by a transferable guarantee, is usually sufficient. It is most common for this plan to be provided by the seller before the purchase is completed
- Whether a buyer or seller, it is also worth being pro-active and checking the property for Japanese knotweed. Disputes over the identity of a plant, the failure to disclose its presence, or the lack of a management plan can result in delays, increased costs later in the buying process, or even a possible misrepresentation claim after the sale, so this approach will help avoid problems
Contact The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors for further information.
An amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 includes invasive non-native plants including Japanese knotweed. Here are some key points for how this affects the homeowner:
- It is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed in your garden, but on your property you should aim to control this invasive non-native plant to prevent it becoming a problem in your neighbourhood. If it has a “detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of those in the locality”, the legislation could be used to enforce its control and property owners may be prosecuted
- Where problems with Japanese knotweed occur in neighbouring gardens, we suggest that you speak or correspond directly with your neighbours (who may already be taking action to control this difficult weed). These informal steps should be taken before contacting your council to talk about action under the legislation
- Homeowners can consider control themselves for a small, isolated clump (see the Control section below). However, a specialist professional company will be skilled at control, ensure eradication and can dispose of the plant waste at licenced landfill sites
For more information see The Environment Agency Information Note: Japanese knotweed.
The images below should make this identifiable to all.
Early Spring Growth.
Distinctive stem and leaves.
Please take note and report any sightings to a committee member.