Crucial ruling alert over destructive weed

Japanese knotweed
Japanese knotweed

Wigan householders blighted by Japanese knotweed spreading to their property from public land are being assured that help is at hand.

Network Rail, whose tracks run through the borough, was last week ordered to pay compensation for damage caused to homes by the invasive weed spreading from a railway embankment.

The landmark court ruling could alter the legal landscape for people living near open land and help raise awareness of the potential for problems.

But experts say property owners have no need to panic and insist solutions can be found.

The rail giant was sued after knotweed growing on its land spread to the foundations of nearby homes in South Wales. Residents said property prices had been badly hit by the destructive plant, which has roots that can force their way through existing weaknesses in brick and concrete.

In what is being seen as a key test case, the Government body was ordered to pay compensation along with the cost of treating the issue. It is now reviewing the judgement but the Property Care Association - which represents professionals in the invasive weed control industry - says the ruling is likely to have major implications.

PCA chief executive Steve Hodgson said: “Japanese knotweed can often be identified and treated with minimal impact but its effective eradication is a job for the experts and I’d urge anyone who thinks they might have an issue to seek professional advice. Expert companies will assess the situation properly, draw up an appropriate management plan, carry out any required work and provide insurance-backed guarantees if required.”

The PCA has an Invasive Weed Control group to act as a source of trained contractors and consultants.