Home-owners who fail to control invasive weeds such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam could be hit with fines of up to £2,500 under new anti-social behaviour rules.
The Home Office says invasive weeds are a “serious problem” that threaten biodiversity and crowd out native species.
Japanese knotweed can grow through Tarmac and cause structural damage to property – making homes impossible to sell.
It re-grows from tiny fragments of roots and is hard to eradicate. Giant hogweed can cause horrific allergic skin reactions, and is widely regarded as a threat to human health.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the Government is reforming anti-social behaviour powers.
Under guidance issued by the Home Office, police and local councils will have powers to force homeowners to deal with weeds if they pose significant problems to local communities.
A Home Office statement said: “Community Protection Notices can be used against individuals who are acting unreasonably and who persistently act in a way that has a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality.
“Local councils and the police (in most cases it will be the council) will have the power to issue notices for invasive non-native species.”
Individuals or organisations that fail to control invasive weeds will be served with a “mandatory written warning” which would explain the impact that the weed is having on the community.
Warnings will state what “reasonable efforts” need to be taken to tackle an invasive weed problem.
Failure to act will be a criminal offence, leading to prosecution and fines of up to £2,500 for individuals or £20,000 for organisations and companies.
The powers are due to be introduced under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.