UK Assessment of Japanese Knotweed Risk is Proportionate
In early 2019 the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee held an inquiry to discuss the impact of Japanese knotweed on the built environment. This was called in response to the Government’s recognition that knotweed causes anxiety to homeowners worried about the effects it can have on their property and that the UK approach might be ‘overly cautious’.
It was an outcome of the inquiry that a report should be commissioned by the Government to review and assess the approach to Japanese knotweed and property risk in the UK compared to other countries. The aim being to determine whether or not the UK’s response to Japanese knotweed and property risk might be disproportionate.
This report has now been published and the findings are significant (you can download the report here). The evidence has found that while the UK has probably the most stringent legislation and experiences the most active knotweed litigation in the world, its approach to Japanese knotweed risk is not disproportionate. In fact some countries might even be heading more towards the UK model.
Much is made in the report of the importance of the TA6 Property Information Form, which is commonly used in England and Wales as the pertinent step in establishing the presence of knotweed during a property transaction. The role of the RICS in ensuring its surveyor members across the UK follow its knotweed guidance was also highlighted as being key.
So what does this mean for the knotweed control industry? Well, clearly knotweed as a property risk in the UK is not going away. Everyone in the property transaction process (i.e. vendors, purchasers and property professionals), need to be keenly aware of the risks posed by knotweed, as the costs and damages associated with its presence will doubtless continue to fuel litigation.
There are some real positives to come from the report. The raised awareness and heightening of knotweed as a material property consideration can only mean that efforts to control and eventually eradicate it will be redoubled. And that can only be a good thing, for the environment and property owners alike.
Phlorum worked on most of the UK case law cited in the report, so please get in touch if we can help with your legal concerns in relation to knotweed and property risk.