On 22 January 2019, the Science and Technology Committee held a one-off expert evidence session to consider the effects of Japanese Knotweed on the built environment. Knotweed causes damage to existing buildings, can hinder both residential and commercial development and can affect valuations/the ability to secure mortgage finance.
To try and help the battle against Knotweed, removal specialists Environet has launched an interactive online heatmap to try and identify Knotweed infestations. Local residents/businesses and visitors can report sightings of Knotweed, which are then added to the heatmap.
Although the heatmap isn't conclusive (there is no mention of the reported sightings being verified by a consultant/surveyor) and is therefore not a substitute for a thorough site inspection, it may be a useful tool to see at a glance whether any Knotweed sightings have been reported in the area. It may also be useful to help determine whether a specialist Knotweed survey should be ordered.
The Committee should publish its findings later this spring, so it will be interesting to see what other strategies and tactics it suggests and whether it has any ammunition in its arsenal to continue the battle.
Described by the Environment Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”, Japanese knotweed’s rapid spread across the UK has prompted a Parliamentary Inquiry into its impact on the built environment, which is expected to release its findings this spring. Where a high number of knotweed sightings appear nearby, potential homebuyers may wish to instruct a Japanese knotweed survey to check the likelihood of the property they intend to buy being affected or at risk of encroachment from infestations in the vicinity. However, if no sightings are shown locally, this does not guarantee that knotweed is not present, as it may not have yet been reported.