Conservative peer Lord Gardiner of Kimble said that 74 action groups had been set up within individual communities in the UK which were supported by Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs).
Community protection notices have been created which gave local authorities the power to demand landowners deal with any problems caused by the plants. Lord Kimble said that local authorities must work with households and landowners in a ‘real community effort’.
The House wanted to know what had been done to fight the weed, described as a ‘thug of a plant’, on a national scale.
Kimble said the government was trialing a biocontrol scheme which involved the controlled release of a psyllid insect, a form of lice which feeds specifically on Japanese Knotweed. While the insects are not expected to eradicate the weed they are expected to reduce its ‘invasive capacity’. The results of the experiment are being assessed.
Writing for Mortgage Solutions in August, Will Sillar, managing director of National Knotweed Survey, said that starting from the size of a fingernail, Knotweed can grow up to 40mm a day resisting weed killers and growing through bricks and mortar, drains and ducts. Sillar said it was ‘extremely tough’ to get rid of the weed completely and the lack of a national standard on how this should be done meant the correct action was unclear.
National Knotweed Survey is building a national ‘heat map’ by bringing together academic research, historic records and treatment records local authority and transaction data and aerial imaging technology so they can provide information on specific properties.
Richard Sexton, director of chartered surveyors e.surv, said: “Whilst Knotweed is certainly a nuisance, proportionality is the key here. It remains the case that no UK property has even fallen down as a result of this troublesome weed but its presence has certainly deterred lenders from offering finance in some instances – leaving some homeowners unable to move.
“However, it can be eradicated if treated appropriately. The RICS has set out a framework for assessing and reporting the risk posed to a property and this is now assisting homeowners, purchasers and lenders in making informed decisions regarding the weed – as with all property related matters, seeking expert advice and assistance is the key.”