What are the Legal, Technical and Financial Issues associated with developing a site without having first achieved complete eradication of Japanese Knotweed?
If you have a site you intend to develop we firmly believe you should completely eradicate the knotweed before any construction works commence. One of the UK’s leading specialists on knotweed, Nic Seal, explains why:-
"Japanese knotweed is simply one of things in life that should not be brushed under the carpet with a botched attempt at eradication, unless of course you want to incur delays and major expense at a later stage.
We deliberately use the term "eradication" as opposed to some cheap method that at best controls the knotweed by killing off some of the plant, and leaving the majority of the rhizome system below ground in a state of temporary dormancy, ready to resurface when you least expect it. There may be no obvious evidence of the knotweed above ground, but you can be pretty sure that viable rhizome remains.
Imagine a site where viable knotweed rhizome remains hidden in the ground, possibly to a depth of 2m or more, having laterally spread into areas you might imagine are unaffected. Once you disturb these soils whether by ignorance, accident or intentionally, you would almost certainly fragment and spread the knotweed rhizomes to other areas of your site. This would significantly increase the scale of the problem, and hence the cost of remediation.
All too frequently we are called in to eradicate, because previous methods or other less experienced operators have failed to completely kill off the knotweed.
The legal implications of a knotweed infestation
"If you caused the knotweed to be spread off site, you could find yourself at the wrong end of criminal proceedings under either the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, or the Environmental Protection Act 1990 "duty of care". Offences under these Acts can result in custodial sentences. If you consign knotweed infested soils off site other than strictly in accordance with these legislative requirements, whether intentionally or not, you will run the risk of prosecution.
The technical implications of eradicating knotweed
"Weak, ineffective methods make it considerably more difficult for anyone to completely eradicate the knotweed for you. Trying to find and remove every piece of viable rhizome is akin, albeit with a difference, to finding and removing all fragments of asbestos that may or may not be in the ground. The big difference being that asbestos does not grow, so usually stays buried out of sight, whereas viable Japanese knotweed rhizome is living and grows to the surface, pretty much irrespective of what is put in its way. Imagine this occurring just as you are nearing completion of the build – it would have pretty dire consequences on the saleability of the property and in many cases financing.
"Where knotweed exists, either within the curtilage of a property or on adjoining land, virtually all UK banks and building societies will refuse lending until it is removed and Guarantees "from a reputable company" are in place. We know because we receive up to 20 calls a day from distressed vendors of properties who have usually just lost a buyer due to funding being refused.
The financial implications of a removing Japanese knotweed
"Not surprisingly, the financial consequences can be pretty immense. It is not just the cost of remediation you should consider. Many Main Contractors/Developers will be reluctant to take on the risk associated with a site infested with Japanese knotweed. Those prepared to take the risk inevitably price the risk, which of course gets passed on to the ultimate client.
If the risk remains with the client and knotweed is found, then additional costs during the construction stage are almost inevitable to cover professional fees, considerable management time, additional site precautions and delays to the contract, plus of course the cost of remediation. The cost of remediation in these circumstances escalates due to the urgency, as the more cost effective alternatives to dig and dump may not be available.
Removing the problem prior to letting the main contract is the best solution all round.
Finally, the cost of tied up capital in property that cannot easily be sold due to latent knotweed defects will be realised in either void periods or discounted sale prices".
So, is it worth cutting corners when it comes to Japanese knotweed eradication? Is it not far better to get the job done properly in the first place. All sites and situations are unique – call us on 01932 868 700 and we will do all we can to provide a solution that suits you, your budget and timeframe.