Japanese Knotweed Ireland

Japanese Knotweed is an invasive plant that is slowly but surely invading Ireland. Japanese Knotweed is one of Ireland’s most unwanted species and it poses both huge environmental and economic threats.

It is one of the fastest growing and most destructive plants and the speed at which it has spread throughout Ireland is nothing short of extraordinary.

Japanese Knotweed Ireland 1940
Japanese Knotweed Ireland 1980
Japanese Knotweed Ireland 2016

It is being warned that planning permission could soon be refused for houses and other buildings on lands in Ireland infested by Japanese Knotweed.

Japanese knotweed in Ireland and the law

In the UK the impacts of having Japanese Knotweed on your property are serious, planning permission is already being turned down, the value of property is falling and in some cases, it is not possible to sell your property until the Japanese Knotweed infestation is brought under control.

More than 200,000 homes in the UK have the invasive plant, and on finding any weak spot can grow through all kinds of hard surfaces, including brick, tarmac and concrete, and in some cases has been known to undermine the very foundations of a property.

Japanese knotweed in Ireland and the law

Currently, Regulations 49 and 50 of the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 make it an offence to:

  • Plant, disperse, allow dispersal or cause the spread of Japanese knotweed.
  • Keep the plant in possession for the purpose of sale, breeding, reproduction, propagation, distribution, introduction or release.
  • Keep anything from which the plant can be reproduced or propagated from without a granted licence.
  • Keep any vector material, in this case soil or spoil taken from Japanese knotweed, for the purposes of breeding, distribution, introduction or release.

Here in Ireland, county councillors have issued a warning that the Government needs to take action before it is too late.

Several Irish County Councils have been very active in promoting public awareness campaigns to prevent the spread of Japanese Knotweed. Kerry county council says it is aware of the threat posed by the invasive species and precautions are taken when road works are undertaken around the plant.

Council staff have been educated to recognise the plant and the bio-diversity officer has proposed training for hedge cutting contractors also. Last year the road enforcement officer sent hedge cutting notices to more than 5000 landowners, advising them of the threats posed to their property by Japanese Knotweed, how it is spread and how best to treat it.

As the spread of Japanese Knotweed appears to be continuing throughout the country there are many voluntary survey and awareness groups highlighting the dangers faced by the scourge of the plant. www.sol.org is another such group who are working to save the River Laune, Killorglin Co Kerry.

Japanese Knotweed Ireland - The River Laune in Killorglin Co Kerry
Japanese Knotweed Ireland - The River Laune in Killorglin Co Kerry 2

The River Laune in Killorglin Co Kerry where it is estimated that a fifth of the river bank is Japanese Knotweed infested.

Individual county councils are providing information leaflets on the plant detailing how to identify the plant and what steps to take to ensure that individuals do not unknowingly cause the plant to spread. Unfortunately, the very fact that people do not recognise the plant is a significant reason as to why it can invade and expand unnoticed for a time.

In Ireland the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht set up the National Biodiversity Data Centre and they collate, manage, analyse and disseminate data on Ireland’s biodiversity.

Japanese knotweed falls under their remit, this data centre collects and records data of areas affected by Japanese knotweed and then works together with state bodies, local authorities, NGO’s and interested groups to tackle the threat of the invasive species.

In January 2016 former Minister for Transport Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohue launched a new initiative to tackle invasive plant species, where his department is to participate in a joint initiative, with Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the main focus of this proposal between the two will be to map and treat invasive plant species on the national road network, including at intersections with the regional road network.

It is also proposed that there be a rolling annual programme for future years.


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