Japanese knotweed is a problem up and down the country and, on average, can be found every ten square kilometres. For builders, finding knotweed on a site may seem like the end of the road, but you can still renovate a home that has knotweed, even if it is taking over the garden. Vicki Marchbanks from Japanese Knotweed Specialists discusses the legal restrictions for developers, and how they can safely construct around Japanese knotweed infestations.
Renovating with knotweed on a property
Many older homes in need of renovating have knotweed or invasive plants in the garden and surrounding land. When your company chooses to take on a renovation project, it’s important that they know that you can continue to renovate with knotweed on a property, as long as you have a knotweed management plan in place.
Knotweed can be found throughout the year. In spring to autumn, a visual identification can be made by an expert, whereas in winter – or when it is underground and has not bloomed yet – a sniffer dog survey can be used.
Dog surveys are the latest innovation in Japanese knotweed discovery. Dogs have an incredible sense of smell and can identify knotweed through snow, underground, and in areas that for humans are hard-to-reach.
How to Ensure the Progress of a Renovation with a Known Japanese Knotweed Infestation
Getting rid of knotweed on any site, regardless of size, takes time. However, there are some key steps that any builder can take to ensure the progress of their site continues.
Be proactive with knotweed
If you have identified a site you wish to renovate, even in a few years’ time, deal with the problem proactively. In the case of large scale developments Knotweed removal plans can take up to five years to complete, and even for smaller projects the sooner the process begins the better. Planning permission for your site will need to include a knotweed management plan, showing how you intend to manage it.
Plans could include:
- Herbicide treatments
- Excavation and removal off or on site
- On site burial
- Screening and incineration of the knotweed
Educate your staff
All site labourers should receive education on how to spot knotweed, and how they should alert site managers if it is suspected.
Part of this should include how to remove waste, as the waste from knotweed is considered contaminated and must be removed by an approved expert, or you risk serious fines and further penalties. Ignoring this would put you in breach of the Environment Protection Act 1990, which covers controlled waste.
Education should also cover how to work around knotweed, as herbicide treatments often need time to work with no disruption to be fully effective.
Whatever you do don’t ignore it
Knotweed becomes more and more of a problem, the longer it is left. Deal with your knotweed problem as soon as you can to guarantee the progress of your building site. Ignoring it could put you in breach of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and other legislation that covers knotweed.
Once a site is finished
Once a site has been completed, a developer will usually only be held responsible if knotweed crops up within the house guarantee. Finding a removal specialist who can offer knotweed guarantees with 35-year RICS, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, and PCA, Property Care Association, approval, is key to ensuring that any knotweed found with a removal plan in place is removed with ease.