The UK Government Home Office has released an advisory notice stating that the new ‘Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014’, can be used to serve notices which require an individual or company to take action to control Japanese knotweed, meaning you could receive an ASBO for failing to control the spread of Japanese knotweed. Citing the notice we provide further detail below:
The government has reformed the ‘Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014’ so that community protection notices can be used against individuals who are acting unreasonably and who persistently or continually act in a way that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality. The Act does not explicitly refer to Japanese knotweed or other, similar invasive non-native plants, as the new anti-social behaviour powers are intended to be flexible. However, frontline professionals can stop or prevent any behaviour that meets the legal test in the powers.
Under the Act, a Community Protection Notice (CPN) can be used to require someone to control or prevent the growth of Japanese knotweed or other plants that are capable of causing serious problems to communities. The test is that the conduct of the individual or body is having a detrimental effect of a persistent or continuing nature on the quality of life of those in the locality and that the conduct is unreasonable. Under section 57 of the Act, “conduct” includes “a failure to act”. A CPN could, therefore, be used to require someone to control or prevent the growth of Japanese knotweed or other plants that are capable of causing serious problems to communities.
This means if an individual, or organisation, is not controlling Japanese knotweed or other invasive plant and could be reasonably expected to do so, the CPN could be used after a mandatory written warning has been served beforehand to get them to stop the anti-social behaviour. Breach of any requirement of a community protection notice, without reasonable excuse, would be a criminal offence, subject to a fixed penalty notice. On summary conviction, an individual would be liable to a fine not exceeding £2,500. An organisation, such as a company, is liable to a fine not exceeding £20,000.
Japanese Knotweed Ltd will watch this development with interest. Of course, the acid test will come in the form a notice (CPN) being served for a case of Japanese knotweed. The development comes ahead of a planned revision to the Wild Life and Countryside Act, which should see the introduction of ‘Species Control Orders’. These will be similar legal notices requiring an individual or company to take action to control or remove Japanese knotweed where it is deemed to be causing a problem to others.