Guidance

Prevent Japanese knotweed from spreading

How to identify, prevent spread and dispose of Japanese knotweed.

Identify Japanese knotweed

How to identify Japanese knotweed.

Prevent spread of Japanese knotweed

You must prevent Japanese knotweed on your land spreading into the wild.

Soil or plant material contaminated with non-native and invasive plants like Japanese knotweed can cause ecological damage and may be classified as controlled waste.

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.

Many non-native plants cannot be composted because:

  • they’re usually persistent
  • they’ll survive the composting process
  • they usually infest areas where the compost is used

Spray with chemicals

Spraying with chemicals can be 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:

You may need any of the following to dispose of certain chemicals:

You must dispose of chemicals through a registered waste carrier to a permitted waste disposal facility.

Bury it

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 has a suitable permit.

You can bury Japanese knotweed at the site 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 them 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 it

If you are a business that wants to burn Japanese knotweed you must tell:

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.

Japanese knotweed crown and rhizome may survive burning so you must dispose of any remaining material following the guidance on how to bury or dispose of it off-site.

You’ll also need an environmental permit or registered waste exemption if you’re a business - this includes if you’re a farmer.

How to dispose of Japanese knotweed

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.

You can supervise the management and disposal of Japanese knotweed yourself, or you can hire a specialist to do it for you.

The Environment Agency does not endorse any specialist offering Japanese knotweed treatment. You must make sure that the specialist you use:

You do not need to hire a specialist contractor to treat Japanese knotweed, but there are a number of companies that specialise in Japanese knotweed treatment. Many of these companies belong to one of these trade bodies:

Use a waste carrier to take Japanese knotweed off-site

You must use a registered waste carrier and an authorised landfill site or suitable disposal site.

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.

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.

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

Contact

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

General enquiries

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
Rotherham
S60 1BY

Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Published 30 March 2016
Last updated 18 January 2018 + show all updates
  1. New links to the Invasive non-native specialists association, Property Care Association and RPS 178: treatment and disposal of invasive non-native plants.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. First published.