Control of invasive plants is governed by European and Irish legislation, writes Karen Walsh.
Japanese knotweed is a non-native plant species, originally from Japan and Northern China, and first introduced to Europe in the 19th century.
Japanese knotweed is an invasive plant, and there is a significant risk of it spreading via fragmentation of stems, and the plants very strong, resilient underground rhizome growth.
The tiniest piece of the plant can regrow.
A number of county councils have issued leaflets on the control and management of invasive plant species, specifically targeted at Japanese knotweed.
Recently, planning permission for a facility to treat the Japanese knotweed plant in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, has been refused over, concerns it could not be guaranteed that the invasive plant would not spread from the site.
A Co Kerry-based company, Pacs Ltd, trading as the Japanese Knotweed Company, had applied for planning permission for a facility to treat soil and stone waste containing Japanese knotweed at a disused quarry near Ballyhaunis.
The project was thought to be the first of its type in Europe.
Japanese knotweed and related knotweed species are categorised into a group of unwanted plants known as invasive alien plant species.
As a result of recent EU regulations on the control of invasive alien species (EU Regulation 1143 2014), many local authorities are now taking steps to deal with knotweed, and Irish property owners are now obliged by law to take proper measures to control/eradicate the plant, if it grows on their land.
You are now legally required to obtain a licence from the National Parks and Wildlife Services for the safe disposal of Japanese knotweed plant material or of contaminated soil.
If Japanese knotweed has spread from neighbouring land and is now encroaching on your land, you may be able to pursue a claim for damages against your neighbour, under the Law of Nuisance.
There is English case law supporting this.
In one particular case, knotweed had spread from a railway line to neighbouring land, and the court held the value of the land was reduced by the presence of the knotweed, and that the defendant had failed to take steps to minimise the hazard.
In another case, the court granted an injunction requiring the defendant to enter into a contract with a reputable contractor to treat the knotweed on land.
If you are pursuing such a case, an auctioneer should be engaged to advise whether your property has been devalued.
Karen Walsh, from a farming background, is a solicitor practicing in Walsh & Partners, Solicitors, 17, South Mall, Cork (021-4270200), and author of ‘Farming and the Law’. Walsh & Partners also specialises in personal injury claims, conveyancing, probate and family law.
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While every care is taken to ensure accuracy of information contained in this article, solicitor Karen Walsh does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising, and you should seek legal advice in relation to your particular circumstances at the earliest possible time.