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Invasive species and injurious weeds

Invasive species and injurious weeds are plants 'in the wrong place' that cause problems for wildlife, farmers, foresters and gardeners.

We control problem plants on land that we own or are responsible for managing, such as road verges. Responsibility for control on private land, including along watercourses, lies with individual landowners.

Invasive species

Non-native invasive plants are those species that have become established in the wild after their introduction to the UK, for example, as ornamental garden plants.

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.

The most common and widespread non-native invasive plants in County Durham include Japanese knotweedGiant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam.

They can cause problems for native UK species and reduce biodiversity. Japanese knotweed can block footpaths and damage concrete, tarmac, flood defences and the stability of river banks. Giant hogweed can cause harm to human health. Other species of invasive plants in the UK include:

  • floating pennywort
  • parrot's feather
  • creeping water primrose
  • New Zealand pigmyweed (also known as Australian swamp stonecrop)
  • curly waterweed
  • nuttall's waterweed
  • Canadian pondweed
  • water fern (also known as fairy fern)

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
  • 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

You can find more information on the Natural England and Environment Agency websites. The charity Plantlife campaigns on this issue and has useful guidance on its website.  

If you have concerns over invasive species growing on county council-owned land, you should contact us.

Injurious weeds

Injurious weeds are native species, which have been deemed to cause a problem to farming productivity. Five weeds are classified under the Weeds Act 1959:

  • common ragwort
  • spear thistle
  • creeping or field thistle
  • broad-leaved dock
  • curled dock

If you have any injurious species on your land, you are responsible for controlling them. You must prevent them from spreading onto adjoining land, particularly land used for grazing or producing hay or silage.  You could be served with an enforcement notice to make sure you do this and fined if you don't comply.

Information about the identification and control of injurious weeds can be found on the Natural England website.

If you have concerns over injurious weeds growing on county council-owned land, please contact us.

Contact us
Customer Services
03000 26 0000
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