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Japanese Knotweed: The problem plant

It seems Japanese Knotweed is becoming a major problem in the UK, especially for homeowners who find it nearby.

Banks are avoiding lending to homes that have it near their gardens or property, and now Swansea University scientists are conducting the largest field trial in Europe to find new ways of killing it.

What is Japanese Knotweed?

The Japanese Knotweed plant is a tough, hard wearing weed that evolved to survive on the volcanic slopes of Japan. The plant was first brought to England in the 19th century by botanists who had no idea of the potential damage the plant could do to the UK countryside.

The plant grows very quickly and is not easy to kill off, chop it down and it grows back aggressively. Digging the root out also comes with problems. The root can grow to a huge depth of around three metres and even if you dig it up, the root and the surrounding soil is now labelled as contaminated waste and can only be removed to a licensed landfill.

In 2014 the government said that anyone who failed to control the spread of Japanese Knotweed could face an anti social behaviour order and could be fined. The new rules could see an individual fined up to £2,500 and a business up to £20,000.

Specialists in Construction Insurance

In Scotland and Northern Ireland businesses already have a legal obligation to deal with Japanese Knotweed and stop it from spreading into the countryside or causing problems to property.

The aggressive species can not only do harm to buildings but it can also overpower native UK plant species causing severe harm to forestry, farms, roads and river banks.

Impact on selling property

Property lawyers have reported several cases where Japanese Knotweed has caused serious issues for those trying to sell or buy a property.

The presence of the plant can have a negative effect on the valuation of the home, while many lenders may refuse mortgages on a property with Japanese Knotweed nearby, even if it is only present at a neighbouring plot. This tough stance from lenders means it is much more difficult to find a buyer when the time comes to sell.

In one case a couple in Northern Ireland had been living in a property for 18 years with no problems. One day they noticed a sudden appearance of a fast growing plant on a bank behind their garden. It turned out to be Japanese Knotweed. As the couple are approaching retirement they know they may need to move out of their home and into a bungalow. There is a real worry now that they won't be able to sell their home when the time comes.


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