How to identify, control and dispose of Japanese knotweed.
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You must prevent Japanese knotweed on your land spreading into the wild and causing a nuisance.
You could be fined up to £5,000 or be sent to prison for up to 2 years if you allow contaminated soil or plant material from any waste you transfer to spread into the wild.
How to identify Japanese knotweed.
Prevent spread of Japanese knotweed
You do not have to remove Japanese knotweed from your land, but you could be prosecuted or given a community protection notice for causing a nuisance if you allow it to spread onto anyone else’s property.
Spray with chemicals
Spraying with chemicals is an effective treatment to stop invasive plants from spreading. You must only use approved pesticides.
You’ll have to re-spray. It usually takes 3 years to treat Japanese knotweed until the underground rhizomes become dormant.
You may need to do any or all of the following when using chemicals:
- make sure anyone spraying holds a certificate of competence for herbicide use or works under direct supervision of a certificate holder
- carry out a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment
- get permission from Natural England if the area is protected, for example sites of special scientific interest
- get permission from the Environment Agency if the plants are near water
You might need any of the following to dispose of certain chemicals:
Bury Japanese knotweed
Before burying non-native invasive plant waste on your land check with the Environment Agency to see if this is allowed. You will not normally be allowed to bury waste on land unless it’s at a landfill site that’s got a suitable permit.
You can bury Japanese knotweed at the site where it’s produced as long as you:
- bury it at a depth of at least 5 metres
- cover the plant remains with a material that does not allow the plant to grow through it (known as a ‘root barrier membrane layer’)
- do not bury any other types of waste with it
Where it’s not possible to bury the plant 5 metres deep, you should wrap a root barrier membrane layer completely around the plant remains and bury it at a depth of at least 2 metres.
You may need to tell the Environment Agency a week before you intend to bury the plant waste.
Burn Japanese knotweed
If you are a business that wants to burn Japanese knotweed plant waste you must tell:
- the Environment Agency at least a week before you burn it
- the environmental health officer at your local council
You do not need to do this if you’re burning the waste privately as an individual but you should check with your local council that burning is allowed.
Dispose of Japanese knotweed off-site
Soil or plant material contaminated with non-native and invasive plants can cause ecological damage and may be classified as controlled waste.
It’s an offence to keep, treat or dispose of waste that could harm:
- the environment
- human health
You must use a registered waste carrier and an authorised landfill site or suitable disposal site.
You cannot compost most non-native plants because of all of the following:
- they’re usually persistent
- they’ll survive the composting process
- they usually infest areas where the compost is used
You must follow the law if you’ve been employed to transfer goods or material by road and you’re disposing of any waste that has or might have Japanese knotweed in it.
Dispose of Japanese knotweed waste off-site
You must dispose of Japanese knotweed waste off-site by transferring it to a disposal facility that’s permitted, such as a landfill site that has the right environmental permit.
You must not:
- dispose of Japanese knotweed with other surplus soil
- sell soil contaminated with Japanese knotweed as topsoil
You can only reuse knotweed-contaminated soils after treatment, on the site where they were produced.
You cannot get a waste licensing exemption for the use of Japanese knotweed.
Transfer Japanese knotweed waste
Before you transfer Japanese knotweed waste you must:
- check with the waste site in advance to make sure it’s got a permit to accept material containing invasive plants - the waste site may also need time to prepare
- tell the waste site that you’re transferring Japanese knotweed waste
When you transfer the Japanese knotweed waste you must cover or enclose it in the vehicle so that no waste can escape.
After you transfer Japanese knotweed waste
After you’ve transferred the Japanese knotweed waste at the disposal site you must:
- brush vehicles down vigorously or jet-wash them to clear them of any Japanese knotweed
- inspect your vehicles to check there’s no trapped pieces of plant or rhizome
See the Japanese knotweed code of practice for more information.
You do not need to report the presence of Japanese knotweed on your land. You can contact the Environment Agency for help if you:
- have more questions about how to handle Japanese knotweed
- want to find out more about when you need a licence to dispose of Japanese knotweed
- want to complain about waste producers who are not telling people they employ how to transfer Japanese knotweed - this is breaking the rules on their waste duty of care
National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
Telephone 03708 506 506
Telephone from outside the UK (Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm GMT) +44 (0) 114 282 5312
Minicom (for the hard of hearing) 03702 422 549
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
Published: 30 March 2016
Updated: 17 November 2017
- Clarified that the Environment Agency are not responsible for dealing with Japanese Knotweed. You can contact them for guidance, but it is the responsibility of the landowner to deal with Japanese knotweed.
- Any business wanting to burn Japanese Knotweed waste must register for a waste exemption (if they can meet the conditions) and notify their local EPR waste team at least a week before they intend to carry out the burning. This applies to all businesses, including farmers.
- First published.