Japanese Knotweed: What is the fuss all about

06 August 2018

Although 76% of the population have heard about Japanese Knotweed, new research has revealed the alarming figure, that fewer than one fifth (19%) of Brits actually can identify it. Described by the Environment Agency as ‘indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant’, failure to identify and treat Japanese Knotweed as soon as it appears can result in it quickly spreading. It can damage buildings and affect their sale, and until a treatment plan to get rid of the knotweed is established, the property is unsellable. Also, it puts homeowners at risk of litigation, by ignoring the growth of the knotweed.

According to the research from a recent survey, the most popular DIY method of treating Japanese Knotweed is by attempting to dig out the knotweed out of the ground including the roots (27% of the population would use this method). However this attempt is likely to be unsuccessful, as the plant can regrow from a small piece of the plant as small as a fingernail. Fortunately, the Knotweed can be treated either over two or three years using herbicide methods, or immediately by getting rid of it from the ground.

In recent news, A Japanese Knotweed judgement was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

A claim was issued against the rail company by two home owners of adjoining semi-detatched bungalows. They issued the claim as they argued the presence of the weed on Network Rails land encroached on their properties, and ‘caused a loss of amenity’ in respect of their properties. This is as the market values of the properties had dropped due to the presence of the knotweed.

The judgement made last year, finding the rail company’s breach of duty resulting in damage and a continuing nuisance, was upheld by the Court of Appeal, when challenged. The presence of the plant affects the neighbours enjoyment of land. The small rhizomes of the plant enable the knotweed to grow quickly and regenerate, and can be seen as a ‘natural hazard’ and ‘affects the owner’s ability to fully use and enjoy the land’. They are a ‘classic example of an interference with the amenity value of the land’.

Japanese Knotweed is invasive and requires several years of treatment to remove. The case encourages all owners of land to ensure they are not encroaching on other people’s land, and to take proper action to ensure they do not cause any damage to other people’s property, as substantial damages can be awarded against them if they do so.