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Japanese Knotweed

About Japanese knotweed

Please note, Swale Borough Council does not deal with Japanese knotweed complaints. This page is for advice only.

Japanese knotweed was introduced into Britain in the 19th century as an ornamental plant. Over time it has become widespread in a range of habitats, including roadsides, riverbanks and derelict buildings. It outcompetes native plants and animals.

What Japanese knotweed looks like

How it spreads

It spreads through its crown, rhizome (underground stem) and stem segments, rather than its seeds. The weed can grow a metre in a month and can cause heave below concrete and tarmac, coming up through the resulting cracks and damaging buildings and roads. Studies have shown that a 1cm section of rhizome can produce a new plant in 10 days. Rhizome segments can remain dormant in soil for twenty years before producing new plants.

What to do if you spot Japanese Knotweed

This is an issue under Common Law and the Environment Agency has no powers in this situation.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 states that it is an offence to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" any plant listed in Schedule nine, Part II of the Act. This lists over 30 plants including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and parrot's feather.

It's down to landowners to control these plants, but they don't have to remove them. However, causing the plants to spread by removing or disposing of them incorrectly would be illegal.

The police are responsible for investigating any offences and each police force has a wildlife liaison officer who can be contacted. If the police can't take action, a civil action may have to be taken against a person to ensure that the invasive plants on their land are controlled.

More information

To find out more information about Japanese knotweed like how to control or dispose of it, visit the Environment Agency Japanese knotweed page.

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