Law Column: Fears over knotweed invading my garden

Law Column: Fears over knotweed invading my garden
The invasive Japanese Knotweed can cause major problems for property owners. Picture Dan Linehan

Q: I live next door to a carpark. I have noticed that there is Japanese Knotweed growing around our boundary wall. I am very nervous that this may come into my garden. Is there anything I can do?

A. The Japanese Knotweed infestation in Cork is a real epidemic. This dangerous plant, once rooted on your property, is almost impossible to remove. In fact, this plant can cause serious damage and devastation to foundations, roads, paving, retaining walls and agricultural land.

There is a real risk when this plant is in your area that it may, in fact, infiltrate your garden. If not removed properly, it can spread rapidly.

The presence of this plant on your property can result not only in damage to your property but it can also lead to a possible devaluation of your property. Also attempts to properly eradicate this can be very expensive and professionals are required. 

Cork County Council issued a leaflet entitled “Control and Management of Invasive Plant Species” which is specifically targeted at Japanese Knotweed. It is, in fact, an offence to allow dispersal or cause the spread of Japanese Knotweed.

In the UK, a successful claim was brought by a homeowner who lived next door to land owned by Network Rail which was infested with Japanese Knotweed. The plant eventually spread onto the homeowner’s property. 

The homeowner brought a compensation claim against Network Rail. They were successful on the basis that the Japanese Knotweed encroached on their property causing damage and it interfered with their quiet enjoyment of the property. A sum of money was also ordered to be paid to cover the loss of value in the property and the cost of the removal of the plant.

We would advise that you should immediately write a registered letter to the owner and occupier of the land and notify them of the presence of Japanese Knotweed on their property and that you will hold them responsible for any damage and devaluation to your property which results from the spread of that plant into your land. You should also state that you will seek the cost of any fees incurred in having the plant removed from your property, by professionals.

*Jody Cantillon is an Associate Solicitor in Cantillons Solicitors of 38/39 South Mall, Cork an award-winning law firm practising in all areas of litigation. Since the firm was founded in 1980, they have been involved in precedent making cases, amongst them Best V. Wellcome, Louise O’ Keeffe v. Ireland and most recently Costello V. HSE, a medical negligence claim in which they achieved damages of €17.8 million, the highest ever award in Irish personal injury litigation to date. Cantillons Solicitors received the award of Munster Law Firm of the Year (Over 5 Solicitors) at the AIB Irish Law Awards 2016.

*This weekly column is a readers’ service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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