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Council takes action to tackle invasive plant

Specialist contractors have been brought in by Fenland District Council to eradicate Britain's most invasive plant from its land and help stop it spreading.


Invasive Vegetation Management (IVM) Ltd has begun a two-year treatment programme to remove Japanese Knotweed from five council-owned sites in Wisbech and Whittlesey.

It comes as the authority urges residents to remain vigilant to the fast-growing weed, described by the Environment Agency as "indisputably the UK's most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant", as it awakens from its winter hibernation.

The recent cold snap has delayed its growing season, but as the warmer spring weather arrives homeowners should look out for red or purple asparagus-like shoots beginning to emerge from the ground. The shoots quickly turn into green bamboo-like stems and grow rapidly - reaching up to three meters by June.

Although at first glance Japanese Knotweed may seem to be a relatively harmless plant, it can grow through brickwork and concrete and into drains, causing serious structural damage and hampering mortgage applications.

Responsibility for controlling Japanese Knotweed rests with the landowner or occupier of the land and in the last few months the Council has been identifying where it exists on its land.

Now IVM has begun treating it at five sites - Petts Close, Prince of Wales Close, West Street Car Park, and Wisbech Port in Wisbech, and the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey.

The firm will be using a specialised herbicide system during the 2018 and 2019 growing season to eradicate the plant, followed by a two-year monitoring period. Following the monitoring period, the eradication will be guaranteed for 10 years.

Homeowners who discover Japanese Knotweed on their land are being urged to take action and put a professional treatment plan in place to protect their property and themselves against litigation from their neighbours. While it is not illegal to have the plant growing on your land, you could be prosecuted if you allow it to spread onto someone else's property.

Professional treatment is recommended as even very small fragments of rhizome, as little as 0.7g (roughly the size of a fingernail), can give rise to new plants. Also, if you are trying to sell your house or raise a mortgage, lenders usually require evidence of treatment programme with a 10-year insurance backed guarantee.

Councillor Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council's Portfolio Holder for the Environment, said: "Japanese Knotweed is a really aggressive plant which can cause serious damage and have major consequences for property sellers and buyers. The Council takes its responsibility of its land and open spaces seriously and is now working with IVM to eradicate the plant on its land and help stop it spreading in the district.

"It is important homeowners are aware of Japanese Knotweed and follow guidance from the Environment Agency to help control and manage it too."


The following advice can help people to identify Japanese Knotweed on their land, and manage and deal with it in the right way:

Identifying Japanese Knotweed:

·         produces red asparagus-like shoots when it first breaks through the ground

·         has large, heart or spade-shaped green leaves

·         can form dense clumps that can be several meters deep

·         produces clusters of cream flowers in late summer

·         dies back between September and November, leaving brown stems.

Getting rid of Japanese Knotweed:

·         Do not try to cut the weed down, mow or strim as this will make it spread.

·         Please do not put Japanese Knotweed in your green bin (normal household waste) or brown bin (garden waste), or take it to a recycling centre - it MUST be disposed of as controlled waste.


For more advice on how to control and dispose of Japanese Knotweed, including chemical spraying and burning, visit: The site also contains a link to local controlled waste carriers who can dispose of the weed legally.

If you're concerned that Japanese Knotweed on your neighbour's land might spread onto your land, try and speak to them, they might not realise it is an issue. You can also report it to Fenland District Council for help to discuss the matter with those involved, and determine what course of action is appropriate in line with Environment Agency guidance. You can report it online

In addition to managing the plant on its land, the Council can give consideration to control of the weed when determining planning applications. If the Council becomes aware that it is present on a site, appropriate planning conditions may be imposed if permission is granted.

Article added: March 29, 2018