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A Short History of a Very Tall Problem

Japanese knotweed, or Fallopia japonica, if we’re going to use its ‘real’ name, is a species of perennial plant which originated in Japan, Korea and China. It was originally transported from volcanic land in Japan to the Netherlands by botanist and adventurer, Phillipp Franz Bon Siebold and a cutting of this plant was eventually donated to the Royal Botanic Gardens within the UK. (I think we all know who needs to be held accountable here, don’t you?). To be fair to Philipp, gardeners loved it. It had a similar appearance to bamboo, produced pretty cream flowers, and grew fast, which meant a nice effect within a garden, relatively quickly and with little effort. It is very bee friendly and one study states that the young stems of Japanese knotweed are actually edible, with a flavour similar to ‘extremely sour rhubarb’ (yum).

What we hadn’t realised when knotweed was originally introduced, was that knotweed is extremely invasive and seemingly holds no concept at all, of personal space. The world Conservation Union lists it as one of the world’s worst invasive species and this is largely down to its high tolerance to, well, pretty much everything. It can survive in ridiculously low temperatures (-35°C!), can live in a variety of soil types by tolerating fluctuations in pH and soil salt levels; and utilises serious strength in numbers by forming dense colonies which overcrowd other plants causing them to die out. It’s no surprise really, when shoots of knotweed can grow up to 7 metres high and 3 metres deep, other herbaceous species don’t stand a chance. In the summer months, Japanese knotweed can grow up to 10cm per day! It can also cause considerable damage to building structures, including concrete foundations, retaining wall structures, tarmac and paving. As a result, this can have a negative impact on the value of a home where knotweed is present and even make it difficult to sell or mortgage a property. To make matters worse, Japanese knotweed refuses to simply be cut down, oh no. The rhizomes form such a strong network of root systems that simply cutting it down, will only cause new growth to sprout from the roots, allowing the colonies to continue to develop and grow at a rapid rate. In order to completely eradicate Japanese knotweed, the plant must be killed, and this can often take years, even using the most knowledgeable gardener, the right herbicide and even excavation techniques.

Knotweed is particularly common within housing areas surrounding train tracks, as it was originally planted to line the railway lines. This has ultimately resulted in the spread and colonisation of gardens in the surrounding areas. Correct identification of Japanese knotweed, as early as possible, is key, but obtaining a thorough treatment plan can sometimes be costly and difficult to implement. It is also against the law to allow the spread of Japanese knotweed, or to dispose of the plant ‘incorrectly.’ So seemingly, if your property is affected, the responsibility lies solely with you, right? Not quite. Recently, there has been an eruption in court cases whereby the public have taken on the likes of National Rail and their local authorities, and won. Pursuing claims for help with treating Japanese knotweed, and compensation to account for the loss in property value and personal distress caused may be a possibility for you if:

· You bought your home and the value has since decreased due to the presence of Japanese knotweed.

· You bought your home and the seller did not disclose that there was Japanese knotweed on the property.

· You bought your home and the surveyor failed to identify the presence of Japanese knotweed.

· There is Japanese knotweed within your garden which looks like it has spread from a neighbouring property or land.

Our network of Solicitors will fight your case on a no win, no fee basis.

If you are suffering with Japanese Knotweed from neighbouring land or were not advised as to the presence of this nuisance plat when you recently purchased the property then you may be able to claim.

We are committed to helping anyone concerned about Japanese Knotweed get the advice and support that they need. We offer a free consultation service and work with expert Solicitors who can defend your home and stop this pest from taking over.

Corvus Legal Support


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