Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and other invasive plants

Your legal responsibilities for invasive plants and noxious weeds

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).

Invasive plants

If you have invasive plants on land that you own or occupy, you must comply with specific legal responsibilities, including:

You do not need to notify anyone about the invasive plants on your land.

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

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.