Invasive non-native plants are species which have been brought into the UK that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live. Noxious weeds are native species, which have been deemed to cause a problem to farming productivity.
If you have invasive plants or noxious weeds on your premises you have a responsibility to prevent them spreading into the wild or causing a nuisance.
You must not plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild any plant listed on schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Download further guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) website (PDF, 153K).
If you have invasive plants on land that you own or occupy, you must comply with specific legal responsibilities, including:
- spraying herbicides - see the page in this guide on spraying invasive plants with herbicide
- burning invasive plants - see the page in this guide on cutting and burning invasive plants
- burial of soil containing invasive plant material - see the page in this guide on burying invasive plant material on site
- off-site waste disposal - see the page in this guide on disposing of invasive plants and contaminated soil off site
You do not need to notify anyone about the invasive plants on your land. However, you should record and report non-native species on the Biodiversity Ireland website.
Invasive plants are listed in schedule 9 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended by section 27 schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. Find schedule 9 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 on the Legislation.gov.uk website and find schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 on the Legislation.gov.uk website.
You are not obliged to remove or treat invasive plants, but you must not:
- allow invasive plants to spread onto adjacent land - the owner of that land could take legal action against you for causing a nuisance
- plant or encourage the spread of invasive plants outside of your property - this can include moving contaminated soil from one place to another or incorrectly handling and transporting contaminated material and plant cuttings
If you are a farmer and receiving the Single Farm Payment, you must not allow an infestation of an invasive non-native species on your land.
Noxious weeds are those that are considered able to cause harm to agriculture. The seven species of 'noxious weed' are:
- common wild oat
- winter wild oat
- spear thistle
- creeping thistle
- broad leafed dock
- curled leafed dock
- common ragwort
If you have any noxious weeds on your land, you are responsible for controlling them. You must prevent them from spreading onto adjoining land.