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'Knot' in my backyard! Court of Appeal ruling prompts Japanese knotweed warning

6th July 2018

'Knot' in my backyard! Court of Appeal ruling prompts Japanese knotweed warning

The financial and legal implications of the ‘pernicious’ Japanese knotweed are well known but following a landmark ruling by the Court of Appeal, landowners can now be confident in their ability to claim damages if their homes are blighted by the weed.

Network Rail lost an appeal over damages awarded to two homeowners after Japanese knotweed encroached on their land in Bridgend, South Wales.

The decision, which could have wider implications for landowners across England and Wales, saw three leading judges rule in favour of the householders whose properties had been affected.

On the same day as the appeal ruling, Defra and the Welsh Government published the government response to consultation on proposals for enforcing its ‘invasive alien species’ Act, which could see it developing new criminal offences to enforce the regulations.

Higgs Property Litigation expert Paul Barker said this all adds up to good news in the fight against Fallopia Japonica - described as a ‘real thug’ by the Royal Horticultural Society.

“Japanese knotweed grows rapidly, overwhelming everything in its path. Horror stories report it sprouting through concrete – both indoors and out - and taking up to seven years to eradicate.

“It has always been vitally important that anyone considering buying or selling property or land identifies and appreciates the implications of Japanese knotweed. This will save them time, stress, and ultimately, a lot of money.”

Paul added that the government proposals in EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation 2014 (1143/2014) are robust:

The government intends to:

  • Introduce civil penalties for less serious non-compliance
  • Look into the feasibility of developing new criminal offences to enforce the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation 2014, as well as the civil sanctions regime
  • Re-consider the level of penalties before drafting enforcement regulations

He said: “The total annual costs of Japanese knotweed to the British economy is estimated at £166 million – a huge problem.

“Hopefully this court case and government plans will now ensure that large companies like Network Rail take their responsibilities seriously and ensure that knotweed is removed from their land.

“However, with the average mortgage provider reluctant to lend where there is any evidence of Japanese knotweed, we recommend that if you suspect that your or your neighbour’s land is affected by this problem, you should seek prompt legal advice about what action you should take, either to bring a claim against a neighbour who fails to deal with knotweed, or on how to avoid a claim should knotweed spread from your own land.”

For further advice, contact Paul Barker .

 

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