Grantham firm’s battle against knotweed takes root

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A Grantham solicitors’ practice is taking on the might of the Environment Agency in an action against alleged negligence in dealing with Japanese knotweed.

JMP Solicitors is representing property owners from a North London road who are claiming that the Environment Agency was careless in its treatment of an infestation of Japanese Knotweed in a brook behind their homes, causing the value of their houses to fall by tens of thousands of pounds and leaving them in a position where sale is almost impossible.

Ironically, it is the Environment Agency that is the public body responsible for writing the code of practice and field guides for the treatment of what is officially one of the world’s worst invasive plants due to the speed that it spreads. The agency’s own website states that fines of £5,000 or a prison sentence of up to two years can be applied if contaminated soil or plant material from any waste is transferred to spread into the wild.

The Environment Agency is accused of using contractors which strimmed the knotweed instead of treating it in the correct way – by digging it up or treating it chemically, in strict conditions, by professionals, and disposing of in a licensed landfill.

By strimming the knotweed, the clippings may well grow into new plants that can spread up to 20cm in a day.

An expert in this area of law, Samantha Towle, who is based at the Grantham practice, said: “This is an incredibly important action we’re bringing given that the Environment Agency is the body that wrote the code of practice for dealing with knotweed and it is the claimant’s case that they have not followed their own guidance.

“This is likely to be a landmark case with far reaching consequences and our expertise in this area, having won a similar case against Network Rail, allows us to fight the Environment Agency on behalf of individuals and businesses that have been affected by negligence in dealing with the plight that is Japanese Knotweed.”

The case against the Environment Agency will be heard in London in the coming months.