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;
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.
NB* ‘powers that be’
Secretary of State
The Environment Agency
The Forestry Commission
The Welsh Ministers
Natural Resources Wales