Every situation is different and the circumstances of each case need to be examined in detail.
Japanese knotweed is a species of plant that has bamboo-like stems and small white flowers. It is incredibly durable and fast-growing and can seriously damage buildings and construction sites if left unchecked.
The plant strangles other plants and can kill entire gardens. The tiniest piece of the plant can regrow.
The landowner is responsible to ensure that they are not causing or allowing it to be dispersed or spread, and should take action to control it.
If you are affected by Japanese Knotweed, we would advise you to first take advice from your local council or the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
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 case law that supports this. For example, in one particular case, knotweed had spread from a railway line to neighbouring land, and the court held the value of the land had been 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 the land.
If you believe that there is knotweed on your land because of a neighbouring landowner, it is advisable to consider the following steps:
- Obtain a report from a reputable engineer or surveyor and arrange for them to take photographs.
- Try and talk to your neighbour, if possible, to agree a course of action. If this is not possible or is unsuccessful, instruct a solicitor to write to your neighbour in respect of the knotweed on their land that is now encroaching on your land. You need to consult a solicitor to advise you of your legal options.
- Beware that you are required to have a licence when disposing of knotweed.
- If knotweed is present on your land, ensure that the knotweed is not transported through other means, such as machinery kept on your lands.
- If there is a basis to bring a case under the law of nuisance, you can seek damages or look for an injunction to have the knotweed treated. If you are pursuing such a case, an auctioneer should be engaged to advise whether your property has been devalued.
Many local authorities are now taking steps to deal with knotweed as a result of EU regulations on the control of invasive alien species, and Irish property owners are now obliged by law to take proper measures to control or eradicate the plant if it grows on their land.
Japanese knotweed can pose a risk for farmers due to its uncontrollable growth and the difficulty in removing it, so it is best you tackle this problem sooner rather than later.
- While every effort is taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this article, Karen Walsh does not accept responsibility for errors or omissions howsoever arising. Readers should seek legal advice in relation to their particular circumstances at the earliest opportunity.