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Japanese knotweed infestation costs Brits an average of £1880

Japanese knotweed is costing homeowners thousands, causing property deals to fall through and devaluing homes, according to research released today by the Crop Protection Association. One in ten (10%) of these cases lost more than £4,000 because of it, one in five (20%) saw the value of their house drop and three in five (60%) saw it destroy something on their property or damage their garden.

The research also reveals a poor understanding of the legal and financial risks around knotweed. Only one in five (23%) know you have to dispose of the plant – which is a controlled waste – at a licenced landfill site. Only one in ten (11%) know you could get an ASBO for failing to control the weed, while just one in five (23%) know that a neighbours’ insurance company can pursue you for damages if an infestation comes from your property.

The findings, which reveal the scale of damage the weed causes across the UK, come the day after Baroness Sharples questioned the Government on their progress in eliminating Japanese knotweed from the UK and the day before EU member states gather to vote on whether they should ban knotweed’s most effective treatment, the widely-used weedkiller glyphosate.

The EU’s own European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), along with a dozen other national regulatory agencies, have all found glyphosate is safe for consumers, yet some European countries, under pressure from green activists, plan to vote against renewing the licence for the use of glyphosate in Europe, effectively banning it from mid-December this year.

Japanese Knotweed has thrived in the UK since its introduction in the 1820s as an ornamental plant, and experts are concerned that a ban on glyphosate would seriously damage the fight against the ‘super-weed’ in the UK.

David Layland, founding member of the Invasive Non-Native Species Association and joint MD of Japanese Knotweed Control, one of the UK’s first specialist remediation companies, said:

“Without Glyphosate, the process of controlling Japanese knotweed would become more costly, less effective, and much less environmentally friendly – glyphosate is scientifically proven to be safe to use, but many of the alternatives are less effective and cannot be used near water.

“To successfully deal with an infestation, you need the herbicide to translocate through the plant and allow it to decay – nothing is as successful at this as glyphosate. If the license isn’t renewed, our only hope is that before the end of the phasing-out period for contractors, there will be a new formulation developed and licensed.”

Homeowners will find it incredibly difficult to deal with knotweed on their own. Despite the fact there’s now an infestation every 10km in the UK, just under one in three (30%) thought they would recognise knotweed if they saw it, only one in six (17%) claimed to have a good or detailed understanding of the weed, while as many as one in four (27%) admitted they don’t know anything about Japanese knotweed.

Only three in seven (43%) realised the weed can regrow from stem residue as small as a fingernail, while only one in five (21%) know it can lay dormant for up to 20 years before re-growing. Just over one in three (36%) know the roots can extend up to three metres in depth, illustrating the dangers of trying to remove knotweed yourself and leaving a base of quick-growing residue behind.

Sarah Mukherjee, Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association, said:

“Invasive species like Japanese Knotweed can be an incredibly stressful and costly problem for homeowners. It can also lead to major damage of infrastructure and clogs up waterways, exacerbating flood risks.

The weed is now present all over the UK, and it’s important that experts have access to the most effective treatments available.

”Without glyphosate the problem will be far worse, and homeowners will have to resort to even more expensive and often impracticable methods of treatment such as excavation and disposal of the waste.”

James Sherwood-Rodgers, Chairman, of the Invasive Non-Native Specialists Association (INNSA) said,

“INNSA and its members would welcome closure on the Glyphosate debate. Without a clear decision uncertainty is created in the invasives sector, and heightened by the prolonged timescale of the voting process and hyperbolic media coverage of the product.

Glyphosate has been scientifically tested and proven to be safe. Used correctly by trained and qualified operatives that are following the stringent regulation within the UK, it is by far the most effective, environmentally friendly tool to control invasive weeds.

We hope that the on-going debate within the EU parliament is resolved quickly so that invasives specialists can continue to use Glysophate to tackle the nation-wide problem of non-native weed infestations.”

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