Laying down the law - dealing with some knotty problems

Simon Colvin looks at cases involving knoteweed and dual regulation.

Knotweed was introduced into the UK from Japan in 1825 as an ornamental plant. Since then it has gone on to spread aggressively and is now recognised as the most invasive plant in the country.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 classes it as an invasive non-native species. It is an offence under the act to plant or to cause knotweed to grow in the wild. New controls on invasive non-native species were introduced by the Infrastructure Act 2015, including species control agreements and orders. These have yet to start to bite because the supporting code of practice has yet to be finalised.

Meanwhile, a recent court case involving Network Rail has highlighted the civil – as opposed to the regulatory – risks associated with knotweed.

No longer good neighbours

The unreported case at Cardiff County Court involved Network Rail and two people – Mr Waistell and Mr Williams – whose properties backed on to land owned by the railway infrastructure company. It is believed to be the first such case to have been considered by courts in the UK.

It is understood that, ...

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