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What is the Law on Japanese Knotweed and Bamboo?



MARK QUINN
MARK QUINN >

Solicitor

Fri 24 July 2020 What is the Law on Japanese Knotweed and Bamboo?

Many homeowners or potential buyers should be aware of the issues involved when Japanese knotweed is present on their property or, indeed, on neighbouring property. Increasingly, similar issues are also ‘cropping up’ with other species of invasive plant. In this article, we outline the problems associated with Japanese knotweed and bamboo as well as the legal options a property owner may have to consider. 

Why is Japanese knotweed a problem?

Japanese knotweed is an invasive non-native species of plant. It was introduced to the UK in the 1800’s as an ornamental plant. The main issues for a homeowner with Japanese knotweed on their property are:

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) provides a comprehensive information paper on Japanese Knotweed and residential property. It describes the damage it can do to property as well as the potential impact on property values and insurance.

Japanese knotweed and the law

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Japanese knotweed growth can lead to the criminal prosecution of an owner or occupier if they do not handle the plant in accordance with the law. However, we will look at the civil liability associated with this plant below. 

If an owner or occupier allows knotweed to spread onto neighbouring land, their neighbour may be able to issue proceedings against them for common law private nuisance. The owner of the affected land can seek compensation for the following:

The leading case for Japanese Knotweed is Network Rail v Williams (Court of Appeal). Interesting to note from this case is that rhizome contamination alone may be enough for the claimant to prove damage to their land. Also, nuisance can be caused by inaction or omission as well as positive activity. So, an occupier can be liable for the continuing nuisance created by another person if they fail to eradicate it when they had ample time to do so.

Bamboo and Japanese knotweed

Bamboo is not classed as an invasive species in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and there are currently no restrictions on planting it. However, encroachment cases are becoming more common; homeowners are increasingly taking legal action against neighbours who have allowed bamboo to spread. In fact, Professor Max Wade (from the Property Care Association) has said that bamboo could be tomorrow’s Japanese knotweed.

As with Japanese knotweed, proceedings are issued for common law private nuisance. Claimants are also seeking compensation similar to those listed above.

Should you require further advice on any of the content within this article, or for assistance with encroachment of bamboo or Japanese knotweed onto your property, please get in touch.

Contact Consultant Solicitor Mark Quinn at our Peterborough Office on 01733 865136 or click the 'contact us' button to email him directly.


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