Railway embankments overgrown with Japanese knotweed scaled

Japanese knotweed law is constantly evolving due to several landmark cases. Japanese knotweed is classed as a controlled plant under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 section 114 (2) (WCA 1981). Another act that is often used when there is a legal dispute is the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

It is not illegal to have Japanese knotweed on your property, but it is against the UK law to cause or allow the plant to spread in the wild from your land you may wind up facing a fine of £5,000 or even a prison sentence since this law can be enforced by both the police and local authorities.

This is especially the case in the landmark case of:

Williams v Network Rail

Stephen Williams and Robin Waistell, who own two adjoining bungalows in Maesteg, South Wales, had made a claim against Network Rail – which owns the land immediately behind their properties.

There was a four-day hearing at Cardiff County Court in 2018 and the court ruled in Mr Waistells favour and ordered Network Rail to pay £10,000 in compensation for the effect the Knotweed has on the valuation of his property and £4,320.00 to treat the Japanese knotweed on their land.

If Network Rail does not eradicate the Japanese Knotweed then Mr Waistell can then claim for the full loss in value of his house.

Network Rail has also been ordered to treat the invasive weed and until this happens, Mr Waistell is still unable to sell his house.

Japanese knotweed actively growing on the embankments of a railway track
Japanese knotweed actively growing on the embankments of a railway track

What does this mean for the average homeowner?

JMP Solicitors won a court ruling on Japanese Knotweed which could pave the way for homeowners to get compensation from Network Rail, local authorities and other major landowners.

It follows a “David and Goliath” battle by two next-door neighbours who took on Network Rail – and won.

The bamboo-like plant, which grows quickly and strongly and spreads through its underground roots or “rhizomes”, can undermine the structural integrity of buildings and is expensive to treat.

Therefore, if you or a neighbour has Japanese knotweed on their land, then there is a legal obligation to ensure it does not spread to the neighbouring property and potentially cause damage. Understanding Japanese knotweed UK law has become a lot clearer since several legal cases have been resolved through the UK legal system.

Railway embankment with Japanese knotweed that can easily encroach onto another parties property
Railway embankment with Japanese knotweed that can easily encroach onto another party’s property

You will be held liable and subject to a fine and/or prison sentence.

For all these reasons, the presence of knotweed can lower the real or perceived value, insurability and marketability of the commercial (and residential) property. It is not yet a general exclusion for lending institutions, although there has been a reported reluctance to lend against affected properties. Certainly, it is not an insured risk on many building insurance policies. 

Nevertheless, knotweed need not be a blight on the property and many in the property industry are adopting a balanced and pragmatic approach.

What to do next?

Seek professional help if you are not sure. Remember it is better to be safe than sorry and with the availability of professional services available, it is much easier to get the right advice in order to comply with Japanese knotweed UK law.


Want to know more?

Japanese Knotweed Law and its Consequences

Knotweed Removal aims to provide the most up-to-date information, help and advice for YOU to make informed decisions. If you are unsure or uncertain about how to proceed, please reach out to us and we will gladly come back and advise you as best we can.

Governmental advice can be found here and the UK law covering the removal of Japanese Knotweed as stated under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 can be found here.

The best means to contact us is via our email – hello@knotweedremoval.tips

Do not forget we have a library of blogs covering many areas relevant to Japanese Knotweed, our free downloadable How-to Guides and Product Reviews on the latest methods being employed to eradicate or remove Japanese Knotweed.

Knotweed Removal, UK

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