SH*T SERVICE April 29, 2015

Is it just me or is the world falling apart?

Do you remember when the last time was that you actually had great service? When did someone actually impress you so much that you just had to ring the manager of their company and say – …. ‘that guy/girl who works for you was fantastic….’

I’m a bit anal with the way I do things. I tend to use the same hotels, the same garages, the same cars, the same pen…..I even have lucky shoes and lucky pants. When you are as OCD as me you get to notice things – for example if you keep going to the same hotel and the service gradually gets worse and worse, it’s noticeable. If you just visit a place once and the service is average you might just think – it’s like this all the time.

But….if you go to a hotel and the service is exemplary and then a year later its average, then the following year its crap…..something is going badly wrong…..

Well I’m sorry…..but everywhere I go and everything I do….service levels are going down the crapper.

This must be to do with the global economy – everyone’s trying to save a few quid and to do this they are cutting corners.

The trouble is they cut the wrong corners…..

I’m not a business genius, I’m far too generous to ever be a millionaire…. but the one thing I do know is that a business is not about a name or a product it’s about the PEOPLE that work there. If your first contact with a company is bad…..then it’s going to be difficult to correct that poor first impression.

If the receptionist puts you on ‘hold’ for twenty minutes or doesn’t know that the person your calling is out of the office it creates a terrible start to the working relationship.

If you arrive at a hotel and nobody helps you with your bags you will be looking for problems from the moment you arrive sweating profusely in your room.

If the car salesman shakes his head and says ‘you couldn’t afford it mate’ he isn’t going to get a sale….

All of the above problems have happened to me in the last week and I’m convinced either there is a conspiracy to piss me off….or the world has truly lost all concepts of what good service actually is……I’m pretty sure that all the problems mentioned above are down to the management of these companies wanting to save money.

The receptionist is paid peanuts so she leaves and a young inexperienced teenager is employed.

The hotel gets rid of the doorman to save a few quid.

The car showroom reduces the bonus paid to the sales team so the best guys move on – new younger cheaper salesmen are brought in – who all work exactly to the script they’ve been given – and boy can you tell….

So….here at Japanese Knotweed Solutions we try and go one step beyond the expectations of our customers. We want you to feel loved, we want your business….and we want you to come back and use our services again, we want you to recommend us to your friends and relations, we want a testimonial from you on our website.

We have a friendly, well paid receptionist, we have an administration department to deal with all your practical needs, we have friendly site teams who are managed by friendly managers, we have a young good looking Managing Director who will answer any of your problems – and if there are still any issues…..we have me….which is where the buck stops.

We want you to be pleased that you chose our services and to feel confident in the service levels that we provide.

We want you to be happy.

SEX SEX SEX April 29, 2015

I’m often asked about sex, generally it’s me… asking myself when I might get some…but on other occasions its people asking me about the reproductive capabilities of Japanese Knotweed?

How can all of these plants have spread across the UK without the ability to produce viable seed?

They produce flowers, they seem to produce seed…what’s going on?

Japanese Knotweed, Giant Knotweed and its hybrids and back crosses have two different sexes, however it is a rather unusual sex system – known as gynodiecy – where you have female and hermaphrodite individuals.

The hermaphrodite individuals produce good pollen and can also produce small quantities of viable seed when cross pollinated.

This sex system is thought to have originated from a mutation in a hermaphrodite species which knocks out the pollen production in affected individuals to produce female individuals.

It is accepted that only a female clone of Japanese Knotweed is found in Britain and thus the plant is unable to reproduce itself by seed. It is accepted that any seed found on these plants is the result of pollination by related species.

It has also been found (Bailey 1989) that the hermaphrodite plant of F.sachalinensis and F. x bohemica are self – incompatible, that is they are unable to form seed without an additional source of pollen.

Japanese Knotweed in the UK occupies two main types of habitat – one natural and one created by man’s intervention.

It establishes well along river banks and water bodies where it shows the characteristics of being native – the plant spreads by propagules, water borne rhizome or viable stem fragments. During flooding events the plant spreads by fragments being carried downstream by the water, then being deposited lower down the watercourse where it establishes and spreads creating new infestations.

The other main area where growth occurs are the man-made habitats of our poorly managed roadsides, railways and areas of derelict industrial land. There are also large areas where Japanese Knotweed has been planted on purpose, the Victorian gardeners also often used the plant for its perceived horticultural value. There is also some evidence of railway and river authorities using the plant to stabilise embankments.

Where Japanese Knotweed grows adjacent to residential areas – the plant is often cut back by home owners who do not realise that the cuttings they throw onto the compost have the ability to grow into new plants – thus inadvertently making the problem worse.

Once the plant becomes established the new stems elongate rapidly and in a few weeks will have produced a dense canopy of green which excludes any light from reaching any of our native flaura. The plant will flower in late August and September – and in areas where there is a pollen source – large amounts of seed may be produced. These seeds are inevitably hybrid and although they can be viable under laboratory conditions – they only rarely germinate in –situ.

So whilst it doesn’t have a fantastic sex life, the plants reproductive capabilities are second to none…

Mike C

With thanks to John Bailey, University of Leicester.


Is Japanese Knotweed a big problem in Japan? …This is a question I get asked on a regular basis, with people wondering whether the Japanese have some secret strategy for dealing with this problematic plant. Other regular questions are… ‘is it poisonous?’ and… ‘could I feed it my wife to get rid of her…?’.

In Japan although sometimes regarded as a weed Fallopia japonica is nowhere near as problematic as it is when it has accidentally been introduced. Japanese Knotweed is a ‘ruderal’ species meaning it is one of the first plants to colonise bare ground. The dwarf variety var.compacta is often the first plant to colonise volcanic lava and ash fields where its tolerance of sulphur dioxide enables it to survive where other plants would simply be unable to cope. In these types of habitats var.compacta is often the only plant to be seen.

In the UK Japanese Knotweed is very much the aggressor – easily outgrowing the native herbaceous communities with its prolific growth rate (upwards of 30cm a week). In its native Japan the situation is rather different with knotweed being just another plant within a huge herb community all fighting for dominance with the other plants native to the region.

The Japanese Knotweed plants in Japan also have the local pests and diseases to contend with and suffer predation from a whole range of invertebrates and fungi. It is when a plant is introduced to a new setting without these pests and diseases that they thrive and out-compete the indigenous population.

It is to this end that CABI has researched the introduction of a variety of insects and plant pathogens to try and come up with an answer to the continued spread of Japanese Knotweed. The basic premise of biological control is very simple – you simply introduce something that predates on the target in its native setting – into the new environment in which the target has become a problem. Whilst the premise is simple, the possible side effects and ramifications of introducing further alien species is highly complex.

Once a new species has been let loose – it’s very difficult to put it back in the box!

What about the possible knock on effects? Introduce an insect to eat Japanese Knotweed, then a wasp begins to eat the insect and becomes over dominant? …or something else begins to eat the wasp and the whole balance of the ecosystem changes…

History would suggest that there have been some successful Biological Control programmes against alien species. In Britain Japanese Knotweed was introduced without any natural enemies and only a few of our native species will touch it. We therefore get these enormous stands of knotweed which grow tall and healthy – untouched by any insect or disease. These plants then pour their resources into creating the storage rhizomes beneath the ground allowing them to both survive over winter and to defend themselves against surface applied herbicides which are mainly foliar applied and often just kill the above ground growth.

The systemic herbicides will at times, only kill part of these extensive systems and may even encourage the germination of buds on the periphery of the rhizome network (Bailey).

In Japan all parts of the plant are under attack, even the rhizomes are targeted – the leaves will usually show damage and it would be rare to find a leaf in perfect condition. The plant is also attacked by various fungi with varying degrees of specificity.

The Japanese Knotweed in the UK is a clone of the original plant brought in to Kew in the 1840’s – it has no close relatives amongst our native flora or our farmed crops – and as such has been identified as a perfect target for bio-control.

So the answer to the question – is Japanese Knotweed as problematic in its native setting? – would be a resounding ‘no’…due to pests and diseases it has a tough time in Japan…and taking our cue from this… we intend to make it feel just as uncomfortable in the UK.


I’m a control freak, I know it…and everybody that works with me knows it.

They generally become aware when they see me leaning in over their shoulder and saying such things as …’that’s not how you spell ‘there’…its ‘their’…or my other favourite… ‘let me just change how you’ve put that’…

Some people hate it, others hate it too…in fact everybody hates it…even I hate doing it…yet I’ve somehow convinced myself that Mike knows best.

So how weird is it that whilst I have been off work having a knee replacement…surprise, surprise, the business hasn’t fallen apart…and in fact…it’s done better – without Mike Clough all over everything that’s gone out of the door!

Meetings have been had without MEC, new clients have been brought in without MEC, orders have been received and we’ve had the busiest year end ever . Yes I’ve been there in the background, yes ive been checking the odd set of figures that have been sent my way…but pretty much the company has run itself – with the caring hands of Alex at the helm.

So maybe I could have a few holidays, maybe I could back off a little?

Why have I not realised this sooner…?

I’m beginning to think that maybe the fault has been mine.

To allow plants to flourish in the garden you have to give them space and allow some development room, you can’t force them into small defined spaces without losing some of the characteristics that you liked in the first place. It’s got to be the same with people.

To get through an interview with me you will have to have ‘something about you’, something that sets you apart from the ‘norm’ – if I then smother that by forcing my personality all over you, what’s the point being so choosy doing the interview process?…

I’m going to learn from this experience and allow my team to flourish, I’m going to give them room to grow and room to make their own mistakes…and I may even allow the odd spelling mistake to go un checked…

Ok the last bits unlikely…


We recently were appointed by the Environment Agency to carry out removal of Giant Hogweed on a project in Manchester as part of the Agencies on-going commitment to flood alleviation. The surveyors were briefed on the project and all Health and Safety risk assessments were undertaken alongside preparation of a method statement and a detailed strategy of how the survey would be carried out safely.

Initial survey works found several thousand square metres of the plant including areas where the general public could have walked into areas of high risk. Signage was erected advising of the dangers of the plant and fencing was erected to ensure that access to areas of contamination would be restricted.

Once approval for the works had been received a further detailed method statement and risk assessment was carried out.

The teams were then issued with a copy of the method statement and were briefed as to the dangers to be aware of when working within areas of Giant Hogweed. The teams were told that the plant produces a dangerous toxin in its sap which would produce blistering if it comes into contact with skin. Teams were then issued with new, fully compliant Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The project was successfully carried out and the client was more than happy with the results.

However, during the works we had issues with one of the team removing his PPE during the works. The weather was warm and the suits are a little warm and uncomfortable so – even though he knew that it was dangerous he removed his helmet and visor and rolled down his protective suit.

Immediately upon noticing the breach of Health and Safety the senior foreman instructed the offending person to leave site unless full PPE was worn at all times.

Over the next 48 hours the offending person that had removed his PPE developed painful blisters and burns which required treatment at a casualty department. The injury was noted in the accident book along with the supporting evidence that he had removed his PPE and had been warned of the possibility of injury should he ignore best advice.

The person in question has since contacted ‘injury lawyers 4 U’ and is suing us for the injuries that he has received.

Whilst being interviewed by the legal advisers I asked … ‘how could we have avoided this scenario?’ – well they said… ‘what you should have done, is follow him at all times to ensure that he kept the PPE on…’

So I said… ‘so who follows and checks the person that’s following and checking the first person?’

The legal advisor then said ‘now you’re just being silly’…

So dear reader what we have here is a scenario where we at JKSL have done everything we can do to ensure that every health and safety aspect is covered – but – if the odd idiot decides to ignore all the advice and not wear the correct clothing that he has been issued with…


Why is there a Knotweed Industry? April 29, 2015

What a silly question I hear you ask, obviously Japanese Knotweed is a problem plant….herefore….there was a requirement for ‘knotweed services’ to appear within Google and the Yellow Pages.

Well that isn’t quite true is it?

Ragwort is a problem plant but there aren’t suddenly hundreds of Ragwort contractors? Giant Hogweed is a problem plant but there aren’t any companies just dealing with Giant Hogweed…yet every day there appears to be a new company on Google who are the…. ‘UK experts in eradication of Japanese Knotweed’… so why is this????

There has been a lot of television coverage and one or two high profile newspaper articles (‘man kills wife, blames Japanese Knotweed’…’mortgage refused due to Japanese Knotweed’ etc etc…but none of these explain why there is an industry scrabbling over every knotweed job that comes up..?

Could it be the ‘shock horror’ tactics of some of these press articles? When you read much of the UK press coverage it centres on houses being demolished, foundations crumbling and your house being made worthless…

Perhaps it’s something to do with the current economy? Many of the ‘new experts’ in Japanese Knotweed have come from a background in damp proofing and timber preserving – looking to find another income stream during the difficult current financial climate. One particular Scottish based ‘knotweed specialist’ didn’t even know what the plant looked like…then six weeks later was on BBC radio saying he was the UK ‘expert’…!

All interesting theories but none really explains why there is an industry dedicated to this troublesome plant?

The answer I think lies in the legislation that surrounds Japanese Knotweed – namely the Environment Agencies – ‘Code of Practice for Managing Japanese knotweed on Development Sites (version 3, amended in 2013)’. This document clearly sets out the parameters under which Japanese Knotweed should be treated and the serious implications and the potentially heavy fines and possible imprisonment for people that flout the legislation.

If you combine this with the press stories you have a fairly strong case for not ignoring Japanese Knotweed… if a plant can stop construction dead in its tracks…then there is bound to be an industry that steps up to resolve the issues caused.

My problem is that half of these new companies haven’t got a clue what Japanese Knotweed is – let alone what it is capable of or even how to tackle it professionally…so whilst there may be an ’industry’ and there may be loads of ‘Japanese Knotweed Experts’ …there is only ONE Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd!


I attended a seminar a seminar last Friday organised by my accountants and run by Andy Gilbert of ‘Go Mad Thinking’ fame. The day started well – I was tied to the attractive lady to my left and we were asked to unravel ourselves without removing the rope from our wrists…not a bad way to spend ten minutes…

We couldn’t do it.

Mr Gilbert then advised us that he knew how to do it – then asked us to pick a partner again and repeat the process…(and nobody picked Mr Gilbert).

Again we couldn’t work it out…

He then pointed out that he had made us aware that he knew the answer, yet nobody had asked to pair up with him! The point he was making was that – if you know somebody else within your organisation may have answers to your problems why not ask them – instead of trying to re-write the book every time?

It was an interesting start to a stimulating day, all based around positive thinking and persuading your team to set achievable goals and to hit targets.

One of the things that I came away with was the realisation that many of the ideas that Andy presented, were already being implemented by us here at JKSL.

We have a meeting every Monday morning and everybody gets to discuss their targets and goals for the week ahead. We encourage communication and we encourage social interaction – and a bit of competitiveness doesn’t go amiss. We even have a ‘brainstorm’ session every month or so where everyone gets to air their ideas – and nobody is allowed to laugh or mock any suggestion no matter how strange…

Current ideas for the melting pot include cloning Suzanne and replacing Mike Clough with a younger fitter model – on a more serious note we have been experimenting with altering water table levels around Japanese knotweed strands in an effort to drown the plant…all of which came from a throwaway comment in the brainstorm session…

So keep thinking positively everyone…and yes I do know how to do the rope thing now so if anyone wants to be tied up – please give me a call.

IS IT DEAD YET? April 29, 2015

A little bit like the young child in the back of the car on a long journey repeating the phrase ‘are we there yet, are we there yet?’…many people dealing with the long term management of Japanese Knotweed will hear their clients saying ’is it dead yet?’

How do you answer this question? There have been efforts in the past few years to produce ‘viability tests’ for Japanese Knotweed rhizome – but these are only ever going to prove the viability of the visible piece of knotweed removed from the ground.

Unfortunately the ‘visible’ bits are not the pieces we are worried about!

The pieces of rhizome invisible to the eye, buried deep beneath moved material are the pieces that we worry about; these are the sections of the plant that could cause problems in the future. So really, viability testing of small sections of plant is a bit of a waste of time. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for viability testing, but i am saying the results need to be looked at with a critical view as to what they are actually proving?

It is the fragmented nature of the Japanese Knotweed plant that makes it such a difficult plant to fully eradicate. Many of the mechanical regimes used to remove the growth can actually increase the number of sections of viable plant and introduce whole new areas of growth into new areas when the contaminated material is spread.

One of the less obvious problems with dealing with eradication of plants in general is the seasonality of their growth. Most of the invasive non-native group of problem plants are either deciduous or perennial and die back anyway over winter. Whilst this may be obvious to any decent quality environmentally based company dealing with these plants, some of the more recent additions to the companies offering services in this sector are less well qualified and completely ignorant as to the vagaries of plant growth.

So how do you tell if a plant has actually been eradicated over winter? If it’s not actively growing then this is going to be tricky? During spring or summer, any fragments of Japanese Knotweed untreated will rapidly grow back and produce new growth. Even areas successfully treated will often produce a final flurry of ‘bonsai’ growth with small fine cut leaves and low ground hugging growth.

Sites treated towards senescence (cellular die back during late autumn) will look successfully eradicated even if sprayed with nothing but water! The leaves will colour and fall and the stems will soon be clear of leaves and looking to the inexperienced eye …dead… the plant was going to do this anyway, in preparation for the winter months ahead.

I have even heard less experienced contractors call over wintering plants ‘dead’….

Q. So what can you do when late in the season your client buys a piece of land, full of Japanese Knotweed that he wants to develop immediately?

Well the first thing i would do is book them in for a training seminar…! Anybody involved in land purchase should as a minimum be able to spot problem plants, even if they can’t actually identify individual species they should be able to spot the warning signs and know when to call in an expert.

The majority of the ‘problem’ plants are highly visible even to the untrained eye. Your client needs to be told that a serious infestation of Japanese Knotweed on a newly purchased site can add not just thousands on to your remediation costs but tens of thousands …removal to landfill can often make a site a non-viable prospect.

Once the sale has gone through, providing the vendor wasn’t hiding information to increase the value of the land – it’s too late to argue for the costs of remediation…it’s a case of ‘buyer beware’…

Q. Back to the original question, your client has bought this piece of land, he needs to develop quickly to show a return on the money he has invested, what should he do?

Chemical treatment as a ‘one stop answer’ is out of the question, the plant will not fully absorb the poison.

Your thoughts must turn to landfill…? Its quick, it’s clean …but it’s bloody expensive….

One square metre of surface growth of Japanese Knotweed requires an excavation two to three metres deep and seven metres in all direction from surface growth, this will result in a pile of muck approximately 450m3

450m3 of soil is the equivalent of 810 tons (1.8t per m3)

810 tons taken off site to landfill classed as contaminated with JK will be charged at a landfill tax rate of £72 per ton giving you a tax bill alone of £58320.00…

There are ways to reduce this figure by classing the material in different ways, reducing the % of knotweed and classing as less than 5% will massively reduce the tax liability – however HMRC are rumoured to be changing the legislation to remove this loophole.

There are some new strategies available in the market with companies offering to screen or sift the site arisings and remove the rhizome material – separating it from the clean soil. In the past the screening systems were huge cumbersome pieces of kit designed for large scale site remediation and were unsuitable for the smaller site operations. There are now mini-screeners available for small sites and domestic projects – when used by experienced operatives this can prove hugely beneficial being cheaper than removal to landfill and obviously quicker than any chemical control strategy currently available.

Burial on site may be an option but depends very much on the current development plan with one eye on potential future uses of the site. Ideal opportunities exist on sites where there is land allocated for car parking or perhaps public open space. This technique is based upon digging a large pit in which to bury the contaminated material, the pit is lined with ‘landfill grade’ carpet of material which is then over lapped around the material to be encapsulated and heat sealed or glued to give a sealed pocket within the pit. The pit must be first approved by the local Environment Agency office then covered with a minimum of two metres of cover – the position of the pit must be recorded on drawings which should then be submitted to the EA.

The downside to any mechanical treatment of Japanese Knotweed is that you will always run the risk of fragmenting the plant and leaving small sections of rhizome within the ground. It is impossible to categorically state – ‘we have removed every trace of Japanese Knotweed from your site’ – anybody that says this is lying. You can say – ‘we have removed every visible piece of Japanese Knotweed from your site’ – this is what we would say at Japanese Knotweed Solutions (JKSL). We would also state that our recommendation would be to have an ‘aftercare policy’ in place. We always offer a belt and braces approach at JKSL, for a small fee we will visit your site on a regular basis and ensure that nothing untoward is happening and that any fragments of plant left on site are rapidly dealt with before they can become a problem.

All of the invasive non-native plants that trouble us within the UK are going to be problematic, it’s what they do. If they weren’t awkward and difficult to eradicate there wouldn’t be the legislation in place to control them. It should be noted that many newly set up companies are offering instant strategies to manage these plants, this just isn’t possible. The control of these species is always based on a long term approach and putting strategies in place to visit and return to site to check and monitor and changes within your site.

There is no quick fix solution.

So, in conclusion, the answer to your client’s question ‘is it dead yet?’…probably should be … ‘it’s a long journey and we’ve only just set off…’

The ULTIMATE GUIDE to Japanese Knotweed April 29, 2015

If you are in a panic about Japanese knotweed then….this is it, the one article you’ve all been waiting for….the ULTIMATE GUIDE to Japanese Knotweed Management.

If you are terrified and can’t go in your garden – you will not need any other information just this one blog will satisfy all your requirements….

So here it is.

1. Don’t panic

2. It’s a plant

3. No – it’s not poisonous

4. t’s a plant

5. No – it will NOT destroy your house

6. It’s a plant

7. No – it’s not dangerous

8. It’s a plant

9. No – you will you not be arrested

10. It’s a plant

11. Call me.

12. It’s a plant

Thank you.

You’re welcome.

WEEDS IN PARLIAMENT…? April 29, 2015

No, I’m not referring to Public School Members of Parliament wimps who have never worked an honest day in their lives – I’m talking about Invasive Non Native Species actually getting some air time with our Government.

There are currently over 2000 non-native species currently at large in the UK but only 200 of them are considered to be ‘invasive’.

The ‘International Union for the Conservation of Nature’ defines invasive alien species as…’ animals, plants or other organisms introduced by man into places out of their natural range of distribution, where they become established and disperse, generating a negative impact on the local ecosystem and species.’

The Environmental Audit Committee have been discussing key points:

Invasive species, climate change and habitat loss were named as the three most significant threats to global diversity

Climate change has made Britain more susceptible to new species proliferating where they did not before.

The degradation of Britain’s natural environment means there is less natural resistance to the spread of dangerous organisms

International trade is the major means of arrival for invasive species

There is an increasing trend for species to come from much further afield than in the past

Britain has a huge advantage over many other European countries in combatting the spread of these species because it is an island.

There is a need to collaborate across the EU in order to stop the spread of these species – although there also a danger in focussing solely on pan-EU measures because some species are native to some parts of Europe and not others

The relative merits of ‘black’ and ‘white’ lists which respectively ban or sanction the importation of certain species, were discussed and it was suggested that a combination of both could be used to regulate the organism trade.

The need to prioritise the species which posed the greatest threat was outlined and MP’s were informed that there is an adequate risk assessment process in place to make these decisions – although the panel indicated that it is often far more cost effective to tackle a problem BEFORE waiting for a full study to take place.

Eradication is impossible for many of these species as they are already established beyond hope. The only approach then is to manage their encroachment on the native environment. This proves to be a far more costly exercise than an early eradication.

The UK is blessed with an outstanding tradition of amateur biologists who can act as a frontline detection force to catch new invaders early.

The reality is that the British Government and the EU place economic impact alongside the impact on biodiversity. The Convention on Biological Diversity which informs EU policy defines invasive pests as:

‘…the subset of alien species that are invasive can have a significant environmental, economic and public health impacts and present a significant risk of the wholesale homogenisation of ecosystems.’

It is obvious that in their risk assessments scientists must attempt to evaluate the ‘economic impact’ of any existing or new infestation…but how is this measured? Should weight be given to economic or bio-diversity…? If for example a species poses a risk to bio-diversity but little economic harm – will it be taken seriously?

When arguing for funding for eradication measures… the argument is bound to be taken more seriously… if there are financial implications…

There are also other arguments to consider – along the lines that natural migration should not be stifled. The acceptance of one species and vilification of another can be seen as entirely subjective. What actually represents an ‘alien’ species? How long do they have to be within a particular area before they are described as being part of the ‘natural’ ecosystem?…

All of these issues are up for discussion in Parliament at the moment – let’s just hope that the public schoolboy ‘types’ don’t ‘wimp’ out and do actually make some decisions!


To summarise what’s likely to come out of the discussions that have been held in Parliament – it’s likely that the ‘powers that be*’ will be able to serve ‘Species Control Orders’ on land owners who allow non-native invasive species to establish on their land.

This will impact on the control of invasive non-native species in England and Wales modelled broadly on the procedure introduced by the Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011.

The definition of an ‘invasive non-native species’ would relate to control of an animal or plant which is both;

Invasive, and


An animal not ordinarily resident in, or a regular visitor to Great Britain or

An animal or plant listed in schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
What this will entail is a little more complex.

Initially it is likely that the land owner would simply be contacted and ‘advised’ that they have a problem with an invasive non-native invasive species. This will probably be in the form of a letter or perhaps even a phone call to the land owner advising them of current legislation and the powers that are in place to enforce the regulation. This relevant body will then suggest that it wishes to enter a ‘species control agreement’.

If no action is promised then a ‘Species Control Order’ would be served on the land owner. This is likely to then give a period of 42 days for the land owner to take action to resolve the issue. If after 42 days no action has been taken then contractors would be instructed to access the land and to take action to remove the infestation or eradicate the plant. The costs for carrying out these works would then be levied against the land owner.

The ‘species control order’ will consist of;

The date the order comes into place and the period for which it has effect

The invasive animal or plant to which it relates

The operations which are to be carried out on the land for the eradication or control of the relevant invasive non-native species

A specification of the person or persons that are to carry out the works
It is not likely that someone with thousands of square metres of Japanese Knotweed will suddenly be served with a species control order, nor is it likely that those unable to afford to have these works carried out would be made to suffer hardship.

The recommendation states that the ‘proportionality’ of the proposed order should be considered and the decision maker must ensure that he is satisfied… ‘that the taking of action contemplated in the agreement order is proportionate to what the action seeks to achieve’.

It is therefore likely that large wealthy landowners will be required to take action where their inactivity has allowed the identified problems to spread and multiply. The phrase used is ‘the body making the order should consider whether any culpably irresponsible action or inaction of the owner has created or compounded the problem that the control order is intended to address. Mere past failure to control an invasive non-native species that is present otherwise than as a result of the persons conduct should not normally be sufficient to justify making an owner or occupier bear the cost of the operation’.

There are in fact 45 recommendations up for consideration – what they all basically detail is that whereas currently nobody can make you do anything about an invasive non-native species’ within your site boundary –

…if these recommendations become law then any land owner with an invasive non-native species on their land must now be aware they could be served notice to take action.

Mike C

NB* ‘powers that be’

Secretary of State

Natural England

The Environment Agency

The Forestry Commission
In Wales

The Welsh Ministers

Natural Resources Wales


I’m a big fan of marketing and advertising, I also think it’s a great way to see how a business views its product. I always note when companies sell themselves based on how cheap they are…‘nobody can beat our prices’ or ‘forever driving prices down’…or ‘you buy one you get one free’…

What sort of business can give away their product ‘free’ and still be providing a quality service?

Either they are overcharging you in the first place so have enough margin in what they bill you that they can afford to give stuff away (in which case you were being ripped off anyway) or they are about to cease trading and are grasping at straws to get your business prior to then shutting down?

What about companies that state….‘we won’t be beaten on price’…?

Surely market forces must mean that you can’t always be the lowest price? Geography must make a difference? A company next door to the site must be cheaper than one that has to travel 200 miles…obviously?

I’ve been thinking about these strategies for marketing and watching TV the other night noticed a new angle for selling cars along the lines of…‘you get what you pay for’….This is an ethos that I have always lived by. If you have two identical looking objects and one is £5 and the one next to it is £50 – I don’t immediately think ‘oooh….I will have the cheap one’ – I tend to think ‘why the price difference?’

Now I must admit there are objects out there that are identical and are simply different in price due to the way that they are being sold – obviously an item sold on Amazon will be cheaper than a high street store – they don’t have the overheads that the street store has and can therefore pass discounts on to their customers. I’m not saying this is a good thing I’m just saying…’s a fact.

Cars are a good example – I’ve had people say to me that a Porsche is no better than a Skoda – they are both a car….they both have four wheels and will both get you from A to B…but I’m sorry they are not both the same – the Porsche will be reliable, last forever and hold its value as well as providing a quick and luxurious way to travel. The Skoda will be ok but will never put a smile on your face – it will lose its value and be worthless and on the scrap heap whilst the Porsche is still being loved and polished in someone’s garage.

We at Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd (JKSL) have in the past had a reputation for being expensive. We have often been undercut by less experienced companies offering ‘quick fix’ solutions to Japanese Knotweed eradication – one most famous example JKSL quoted £15,000.00 and the local garden company quoted £500.00 – the client didn’t understand how we had arrived at our quote and went with the lower price. Twelve months later the same client rang back asking for advice on his now escalating problem as the Knotweed had now spread into his car park and was damaging the hard surfaces….revised costs from JKSL…. £22,000.00

We will always sit down and explain to our clients how we have arrived at our costs. We are happy to be transparent with our rates and our gross margin and will be happy to show our net profit on a particular project. We also strongly believe that a ‘profit’ should be made….and shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about.

One thing to bear in mind when trying to get the cheapest possible price for your invasive weed problems….

Companies that are cheap (and often not very cheerful) may very well not be around in twelve months’ time. Many of these invasive non-native species will take years of repeat treatments to fully eradicate – if your cheaply priced contractor goes bump after his initial treatment has been carried out – who’s going to do the follow up….?

So whilst it’s not quite a Porsche/Skoda comparison – you may be better getting the company that’s going to last and have value – and be around to sort your follow up treatment….rather than the company that’s broken down by the roadside.

We don’t give away anything ‘free’ and we aren’t….‘the cheapest possible price’ – what we will do is sort your problem plants out at a reasonable price….and still be around for the foreseeable future.