Legislation NI

The Wildlife Order (NI) 1985 (as amended) states that it is an offence under Article 15 if anyone plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any species of plant listed on Schedule 9 Part II.

This law does not place any onus on landowners to treat invasive plants on their own property. For example, if there is Japanese knotweed growing on private land next to your garden the legislation does not apply as everyone has the right to grow plants responsibly in their own garden. Contrary to popular belief, there is no imperative for a landowner to remove existing established areas of Japanese knotweed from their land. There may be an issue if the landowner is ‘causing’ the Japanese Knotweed to grow ‘in the wild’ by allowing it to spread over the property boundary, but NIEA cannot act in this case as their focus is on the natural environment. Therefore, as long as requirements are met, any control work undertaken on public or privately-owned land is at the discretion of the owner.
Awareness raising with the neighbour and attempting to come to an amicable agreement would be the first step. If this doesn’t work, then you may need to follow up with potential civil proceedings.

Waste Legislation

The Controlled Waste (Duty of Care) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 place a legal responsibility on anyone who produces, imports, stores, transports, treats, recycles or disposes of waste to take the necessary steps to keep it safe and to prevent it from causing harm, especially to the environment or to human health. This also includes ensuring that wastes are passed to a suitably licensed waste carrier for treatment/ disposal at a licensed waste facility.

The Waste Management Regulations (NI) 2006 (as amended) requires that the occupier of domestic properties take all such measures available to secure that any transfer of waste from their household is only to an authorized person or to a person for authorized transport purposes.

The Northern Ireland Environment Agency provide an online service to allow you to search for appropriately licensed waste sites. This is available on the NIEA website at: http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/waste/public_reg.htm

Japanese knotweed

The current Northern Ireland Environment Agency policy on the disposal of Japanese knotweed material and contaminated soils off site follows the Environment Agency guidelines and places a duty of care on all waste producers to ensure Japanese knotweed is disposed of at a licensed landfill site and that the site operator is notified that the waste material contains Japanese knotweed. There is also a duty of care to prevent its spread to adjacent land or by failing to dispose of Japanese knotweed by following the correct guidelines. Remember that not all licensed landfill sites will accept Japanese knotweed waste for deep burial. It is advisable to use the contact details of the licensed landfill sites on the NIEA waste register to check with them directly if they will accept the invasive plant material / seeds.

Giant Hogweed and Himalayan balsam

Both giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam can easily be spread by seeds via the movement of the plants (when in seed) or the movement of soil which contains their seeds. The disposal of plant material and soils which contains their seeds off site should be carried out in the same way as Japanese knotweed to ensure compliance with the Wildlife Order (NI) 1985 (as amended) and waste legislation.

Given that both species are relatively shallow rooted in comparison to Japanese knotweed it is important to note that there is not the same requirement to deep bury the plant and soil material of these species to the same extent of that which is recommended for Japanese knotweed. Current guidance advises that burial at a depth of 1 metre should be sufficient to prevent regrowth occurring from the seeds. Where deep burial takes place onsite follow up checks should be undertaken on a regular basis in the following years for any missed seeds. Remember that not all licensed landfill sites will accept waste material that contains Giant hogweed or Himalayan balsam plant or seed material. It is advisable to use the contact details of the licensed landfill sites on the NIEA waste register to check with them directly if they will accept the invasive plant material / seeds.

Other

In addition, you may have to refer to the legislation: