People who fail to control the spread of invasive non-native plants such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed(to name three) are at risk of being fined or receiving an anti-social behaviour order, known as a Community Protection Notice (“CPO”), following new Guidance issued by the Home Office.
The Home Office has published Guidance which confirms a landowner’s legal obligations where there are invasive plants present. Whilst a property owner is not obliged to remove or treat invasive plants, they must not:
- allow invasive plants to spread from their land on to adjoining land, or
- plant or encourage the spread of invasive plants outside their property.
The Guidance explains how CPOs may be used to get agencies to deal with a persistent or previously ignored anti-social behaviour problem. This could apply to landowners who fail to deal with invasive non-native plants on their property which adversely affects neighbouring land.
Where it may be necessary to invoke the anti-social behaviour powers, the first stage will be to serve a written warning on the property owner. This will be followed by a Community Protection Notice(CPN). Under section 43 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 the police or local authority have the power to serve a CPN on any individual/organisation where the individual is acting unreasonably, or persistently/continually acting in a way which has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the local area.
The requirement(s) set out in the CPN could specify the remedial action required, contain a requirement to make reasonable efforts to make good any outstanding issues within a specified period of time and/or a requirement to take reasonable steps to prevent future occurrence of the problem. Breach of any requirement of the Notice would be a criminal offence. Breach of any requirement of a CPN, without reasonable excuse, would be a criminal offence, subject to a fixed penalty notice (which attracts a penalty of £100) or prosecution. On summary conviction, an individual would be liable to a level 4 fine. An organisation, such as a company, is liable to a fine not exceeding £20,000.
These requirements will apply equally to a mortgagee in possession.
Other advice on invasive plants can be found at https://www.gov.uk/japanese-knotweed-giant-hogweed-and-other-invasive-plants