How to stop the spread and dispose of invasive non-native plants that can harm the environment in England.
Applies to England
You must not plant in the wild, or cause to grow in the wild, invasive non-native plants. This can include moving contaminated soil or plant cuttings.
If you find invasive non-native plants on your land, you must stop them from spreading and causing a nuisance or damage to other land or property. If you do not, you could be responsible for any damage they cause and may be prosecuted.
Check what you must do if you find invasive non-native plant species of special concern on your land or property.
Types of invasive non-native plants
The most commonly found invasive non-native plants include:
Find out how to identify other invasive plants.
Treat invasive non-native plants
You can treat and dispose of invasive non-native plants by:
- spraying with chemicals
- pulling or digging out live, dead or dying plants
- cutting back plants to prevent the seeds dispersing
- burying them
- burning them
- disposing of them off site
You must make sure that the way you treat and dispose of invasive non-native plant material does not endanger human health or the environment.
After treating invasive non-native species, you should re-establish native plant species. This will help to reduce soil erosion, provide competition and control them to prevent further invasion.
Read guidance on how to stop Japanese knotweed from spreading.
Spray plants with chemicals
Spraying or injecting the stem with approved chemicals (called ‘herbicides’) is an effective treatment to stop invasive plants from spreading. You’ll usually have to respray to completely kill larger patches and prevent any regrowth of invasive non-native plants.
Get certificates, assessments and permission to spray plants
When using approved chemicals, you must:
- hold a certificate of competence for herbicide use, or be supervised by 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 agreement from the Environment Agency to use herbicides in or near water
Dispose of plant material
You can dispose of invasive non-native plant waste in a landfill site if you have an environmental permit that allows it. This includes soil containing Japanese knotweed or its rhizome (stems that grow underground and can produce roots).
To bury invasive non-native plant waste without a permit, you must follow the conditions in the treatment and disposal of invasive non-native plants: RPS 178.
If you want to burn plant material at the site where it’s growing after you remove it, you must:
- get a burning waste in the open exemption (a D7 exemption)
- follow local byelaws and not cause a nuisance
- follow the conditions set out in the treatment and disposal of non-native plants: RPS 178 guidance when you bury ash or any remaining plant material on site, or dispose of it at a permitted landfill site
You must not:
- cause a risk to water, air, soil, plants or animals
- cause a nuisance through noise or odour
- harm the countryside or places of special interest
If you’re burning waste as an individual, contact your local council to check that burning is allowed.
How to safely dispose of plants off site
Soil or plant material contaminated with invasive non-native plants can cause ecological damage and may be classified as controlled waste. For example, it may contain seeds, rhizomes, corms or fragments of plants that could regrow.
To dispose of invasive non-native plant waste off site, you must:
- use a registered waste carrier
- send it to an authorised landfill site or suitable disposal site – check with the site directly, contact your local council or check the Environment Agency public register
You cannot compost most non-native plants because they:
- are usually persistent
- will survive the composting process
- usually infest areas where the compost is used
You must responsibly dispose of all soil contaminated with persistent chemicals (including herbicides that do not break down), which are usually hazardous waste.
Find out how to dispose of:
In most cases, you’ll need to hire a specialist contractor.
If you use a site which is not permitted to dispose of waste, you could be fined or go to prison.
Companies that specialise in treating invasive non-native plants
You can supervise the management and disposal of invasive non-native plants yourself, or you can hire a specialist to do it for you.
You must make sure that you or any specialist you use:
- operate within the conditions in treatment and disposal of invasive non-native plants: RPS 178
- has the relevant environmental permit
Look for a contractor with the following accreditations and registrations:
- Amenity Forum Membership
- BASIS Professional Register
- BASIS Amenity Training Register
- BASIS Nominated Storekeeper (NSK) Professional Register
Many of these companies belong to one of these trade bodies:
Contact the Environment Agency
Contact the Environment Agency if you want to:
- find out when you need a waste licence to dispose of waste
- complain about waste producers passing Japanese knotweed waste to waste carriers without telling them what it is
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.