A Knotty Problem: Japanese Knotweed on neighbouring land

It is now almost impossible to borrow against land affected by Japanese Knotweed, even if it's on a neighbouring site. This article covers what measures can be taken to force a neighbour to deal with removal of the plant.

A landowner or occupier is under a duty to prevent the escape of Japanese Knotweed onto adjoining neighbouring land. There is however no legal obligation for a landowner or occupier to inform anyone that knotweed is present on the land or any legal obligation to remove or treat it. There are however legal obligations in the disposal of knotweed off-site, or the burning, burying or treating of it on-site. In brief, these are as follows.

The Local Authority has some discretionary powers in dealing with difficult neighbours with knotweed on their land. The Local Authority can serve a Notice under Section 215 Town and Country Planning Act 1990 ("S215"). The first step is to complain to the LocalAuthority about the affected land. The Local Authority would always encourage a negotiation between neighbours first before looking to serve a Notice. If the negotiation is not effective, the Local Authority will then consider all the local circumstances, such as the condition of the site, the impact on the surrounding area and the scope of their powers.

If the Local Authority decides that action needs to be taken, they will firstly threaten the S215 Notice on the landowner or occupier. If this does not have the desired effect, it is then at the Local Authority's discretion whether they serve such a Notice.

A S215 Notice requires a landowner or occupier to remedy the condition of the land within 28 days, where in the Local Authority's opinion; the amenity of an area (or adjoining area) is adversely affected.

During the 28 day period, the landowner or occupier can apply to the Magistrates' court against complying with the Notice, on any of the following grounds

The condition of the land is as a result from the ordinary course of events Requirements of the notice are excessive

Time for compliance in the notice is unreasonable

The infestation does not diversely affect amenity

Prosecute the landowner or occupier in the Magistrate's court with a fine currently not exceeding £1000

Step in to undertake the necessary works and recover reasonable costs from the landowner or occupiers having a detrimental effect, of a persistent nature, on the quality of life of those in the locality is unreasonable

There must be damage, or interference with the enjoyment of a neighbour's lan

Which must be substantial or unreasonable; and which may arise from a single incident or state of affairs.The claimant must have a direct interest in the land affected by the nuisance.damages to compensate for loss; and/or an injunction to prevent the continuing nuisance and prevent recurrence.environmental team.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.