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Japanese Knotweed Survey

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Japanese knotweed law & safe working methods  

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In the UK there are two main pieces of legislation that cover Japanese knotweed. These are:

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981

Listed under Schedule 9, Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause the species to grow in the wild. Allowing any Japanese knotweed to spread from your land could also make you liable to third party litigation and/or civil prosecution. If allowed to escape onto an adjacent property an order could be served under nuisance legislation. Not disposing of Japanese knotweed in accordance with the Environment Agency Code of Practice 2006 could easily result in spreading the knotweed and therefore breaking the law.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Japanese knotweed is classed as ‘controlled waste’ and as such must be disposed of safely at a licensed landfill site according to the Environmental Protection Act (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991. Soil containing rhizome material can be regarded as contaminated and, if taken off a site, must be disposed of at a suitably licensed landfill site and buried to a depth of at least 5 m.
An offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act can result in a criminal prosecution. An infringement under the Environmental Protection Act can result in enforcement action being taken by the Environment Agency, which can result in an unlimited fine. You can also be held liable for costs incurred from the spread of knotweed into adjacent properties and for the disposal of infested soil off site during development, which later leads to the spread of knotweed onto another site.

Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986.

The Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 requires any person who uses pesticides to take all reasonable precautions to protect the health of human beings, creatures and plants, to safeguard the environment and to avoid contaminating water. For application of pesticides in or near water approval from the Environment Agency should be sought before use.

Safe Working Methods

Japanese knotweed contaminated areas should be clearly marked out on site. Areas that do not need to be disturbed during the works should be fenced off, allowing a buffer of at least 7 meters radius (from the edge of identified areas) to allow for the likely extent of the rhizomes.

Use of tracked machinery should be limited until areas contaminated with Japanese knotweed have been cleared and/or identified and cordoned off. If tracked machinery must be used in areas where Japanese knotweed is known to be present, then consider using a root barrier overlain with MOT Type 1 as a base for vehicles to travel on.

Areas where Japanese knotweed has been identified should be cleared slowly, one at a time with ongoing assessment of the extent of contaminated ground. Only essential vehicles should be present in areas contaminated with Japanese Knotweed.

Never stockpile potentially contaminated material within 10 metres of a watercourse.

On leaving areas of the site known to contain Japanese knotweed, any tracked machinery that has been used should be thoroughly cleaned within a designated area. This area should be as close as possible to the contaminated area on which the machinery has been working to avoid the spread of Japanese knotweed. This area should be monitored in the spring for knotweed growth and a spraying programme implemented if necessary. Any machinery used in clearing contaminated areas should be similarly cleaned. Care should be taken to ensure that contaminated material is not dropped or transferred to other areas of the site.

Japanese knotweed contaminated spoil should only be placed on top of a root barrier in an approved fenced area. Once the contaminated material is removed from these areas, it should be monitored for re-growth, particularly during the following growing season and, if necessary, treated with an appropriate herbicide.

All site operatives should be made aware of the requirements associated with the removal/disposal of Japanese knotweed in order to help limit accidental spread.

All haulage lorries or dumpers carrying Japanese Knotweed contaminated material should be covered.

Never use a strimmer, mower (without collection bucket) or chipper on Japanese knotweed material.

If you are working between November and March in an area where Japanese Knotweed is known to be present, then dead shoots from the previous year can be a good indication of its location. In winter no growth is evident above ground but the below-ground parts of the plant will still be alive. Breaking up this root network and transporting either off site or around your site on vehicle tracks will spread the plant. Use the precautions outlined above to reduce the risk of spreading the plant.

Any Japanese Knotweed contaminated soil or plant material that you discard, intend to discard or are required to discard is classed as 'controlled waste' and should be accompanied by appropriate Waste Transfer documentation. Japanese knotweed should be disposed of in a licensed landfill site. Be sure that you notify your waste haulier that the waste to be removed contains Japanese knotweed. You should also contact the landfill site several days before any material containing Japanese knotweed is taken there to allow a suitable area to be prepared for its disposal. You have a Duty of Care to make sure that the waste is disposed of properly and there is an ongoing liability until it is.

Where insufficient time, commonly 3 years, is not available to ensure complete eradication of Japanese Knotweed through chemical control it will be necessary to treat the material in a manner that avoids further spreading and contains the infestation. It is also recommended that, wherever possible, this approach be adopted, even when a chemical control programme has been completed.

Controlled burning of stem and crown material should be used as part of the control programme. This reduces the viability of material and the volume for burial. Such burning must take into account any local by-laws and take account of the potential for nuisance or pollution that may occur as a result of the activity. Burning in the open may be undertaken in accordance with a registered exemption as described in Paragraph 30 of Schedule 3 of the Waste Management Regulations 1994. The exemption also covers associated storage, which will allow for the drying of the material that is likely to be required before burning can take place. Japanese knotweed stems can be left on site after cutting in preparation for burning if the stem is of sufficient size to prevent dispersal by wind or traffic movement; there is no risk of dispersal into a watercourse and the stem has been neatly cut near its base using a cutter, hook or scythe.

Soil containing Japanese knotweed material and burnt remains of Japanese knotweed can be buried on site of production. It is recommended that at least one application of non-persistent herbicide will have been performed to reduce the vigour of infective material. Soil to a depth of at least 3m and within a perimeter of 7m of the plant growth area should be excavated for burial. Site managers should check the periphery of the excavation for rhizome, to ensure that an adequate volume of material has been removed to account for all of the contaminated material.

To ensure compliance with the Wildlife and Countryside Act and reduce the risk of spreading Japanese knotweed, any such on site burial and any controlled burning must be done in accordance with the Environment Agency code of practice. If on site burial is undertaken in accordance with the code, then enforcement action would not normally follow for not having a Waste Management Licence.

Where on site burial is undertaken it is strongly advised that to prevent potential disturbance and re-infestation the burial site location is recorded, and that any future owners are advised of its position. The local Environment Agency Area office environment protection team must be informed at least one week prior to the burial or burning activity.

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Company’s Registered Office Address: 597 Etruria Rd, Basford, Stoke On Trent, Staffordshire. ST4 6HP.
Japanese Knotweed Survey © Copyright 2011

Japanese knotweed survey, management, control, eradication & land remediation relief.
Areas include Staffordshire, Cheshire, West Midlands, Manchester, Birmingham & Stoke On Trent.

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