Japanese Knotweed is a very real concern for commercial and residential developers, investors and lenders, as well as occupiers. Lenders commonly refuse to lend on property where there is a known presence of Japanese Knotweed and, increasingly, their reluctance extends to properties where Japanese Knotweed is found on adjoining land. Whilst it is an offence to plant or otherwise cause Japanese Knotweed to grow in the wild,* there are currently few options available to authorities or aggrieved neighbours to control its spread. Proposed new measures will enable authorities to make species control orders and will give them powers to require landowners to control invasion of non–native species and rights to enter land in order to carry out surveys and remediation works. Non-compliance with an order would be a criminal offence.
Matt Germain, Associate Director in Osborne Clarke’s Environment Group, comments: “The closing of this “legislative gap” will be warmly welcomed at all levels within the commercial and residential property market. Giving the authorities the power to issue control orders to deal with Japanese Knotweed will provide comfort that there is a back-stop solution if the parties cannot reach agreement on suitable remediation. Clients need to be aware of the seriousness of having the plant on a site and the need to engage specialist consultants and contractors to survey and remediate an infestation, and of course to ensure appropriate contractual reliance is obtained.
* The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981