Harris Lamb Blog – 1st June
1st June, 2011.
Contamination Grows, Don’t You Know?
By Carl Kesterton, Building Surveyor.
Japanese Knotweed can be a real dilemma for property owners and developers. The plant, which can grow as much as 20 centimetres in one day and could reach three metres high by July, it is a notifiable contaminant and more common than you would think – just look beside a railway embankment, canal or many urban environments close to water.
For many property owners, simply the mention of Japanese Knotweed can bring on a cold sweat. Not only is it renowned for its invasive properties and hardiness during eradication but also for the fact that mortgage lenders and insurance companies may not cover a property at which it is present in the ground.
If knotweed is found affecting a property yet was not reported at the time of a sale, it can potentially result in expected mortgage or insurance covers being withdrawn.
The fearful reputation of Japanese Knotweed is not without sound foundation, albeit there are a number of myths surrounding the plant – including that it can ‘burrow’ through foundations – which have contributed to its unenviable image.
That said, property owners and developers do need to be aware of the need to take action when it is discovered, not least because there is legislation governing its treatment which could mean property owners might unintentionally break the law, with associated potential ramifications.
The Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981) makes it a criminal offence to spread Japanese Knotweed. This means any excavated soil from an affected area that is taken off site must be disposed of at a licensed landfill site. It is, therefore, important to avoid placing cuttings or roots in ordinary rubbish bins or in compost heaps. To do so would be a breach of the Environment Act (1990) and could lead to an unlimited fine.
The problem is not insurmountable but prompt action does need to be taken. RICS recommends investigating full eradication using a reputable contractor. Owners need to recognise that this can take weeks or months as it usually involves a combination of herbicides and excavation, and some aspects of treatment are weather dependent.
These include giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, floating pennywort, parott’s feather and New Zealand pigmyweed!
Need help or advice fast? Call on of Harris Lamb’s Building Surveyor’s on 0121 455 9455.
For advice and assistance on all aspects of Building Surveying, Carl would be happy to help. He can be reached on 0121 455 9455 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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