Invasive Vegetation Management & Treatment Limited


Growing problem of Japanese knotweed

By Samantha Payne

An MP has presented a petition to Parliament calling for the removal of Japanese knotweed threatening residents' properties.

Eltham MP Clive Efford spoke to the House of Commons on behalf of 120 residents living in Tuam Road and Chelsworth Drive, Plumstead, whose houses back on to unused land where the plant is growing uncontrollably.

Japanese knotweed was introduced to the UK in the 1800s and creates an underground root network which can extend several metres.

There are regulations governing the control and disposal of the plant when the owner of the land can be identified.

But when the land is unused, which is the case with the 25ft-wide area in Plumstead, it is classified as bona vacantia when there is no owner.

It then reverts to the Crown - which denies responsibility.

A company previously owned the land but it reverted to the Crown in the late 1970s.

On May 9, Mr Efford presented a petition asking Parliament to accept responsibility for the problem.

He said: "This petition of residents of Chelsworth Drive and Tuam Road highlights the growing problem of Japanese knotweed.

"No-one has a legal duty to deal with the problem despite the threat to neighbouring properties, creating a problem for people living there."

He added: "Residents fear it will come up through their floorboards and will destroy their foundations, as well as the sewer system."

The Treasury Solicitor, which represents the Crown in its dealings with bona vacantia, has offered the Chelsworth Drive Residents' Association the chance to buy the land.

A spokesman said: "The Treasury Solicitor offered the land to the residents for a nominal sum.

"Additionally, it has also offered to instruct a company to advise about the management or removal of any knotweed prior to new ownership by the residents' association.

"So far these offers have been declined, and therefore there is no further action the Treasury Solicitor can take."

Residents' Association secretary Jean Reader, of Chelsworth Drive, says it may take legal action against the Crown if it does not remove the plant.

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