Panic in the StreetsMay 13th 2015
Over the last twenty years or so I’ve been prattling on about invasive species…but only occasionally getting people to listen. Most of the time I just had people say ..’Japanese what weed?’ …or …’Giant what plant?’ …and they then pay very little attention to anything else that I’ve said….thinking that I’m some nutter.
It’s taken a while for me to be taken seriously but… slowly but surely my credibility is rising – to the point where my wife will actually agree to be seen in public with me…maybe it’s the TV appearances (Countryfile, Inside Out, Rip Off Britain, Sky News, BBC News) maybe it’s the Radio Shows (too numerous to mention)…or maybe it’s just that people are far more environmentally aware than they used to be??
Actually I suspect its more than a little to do with me…..but can one man actually make such a difference you may well be asking?
Well…given that Japanese Knotweed Solutions Ltd were THE FIRST company to recognise the problems with this most invasive of species, and THE FIRST company to provide a niche market business dealing solely with Japanese Knotweed – the I guess ‘yes’ would be the answer to the question.
I have been speaking and presenting about JK for over fifteen years and have travelled the length and breadth of the UK speaking to such diverse groups as the RICS and the CML (Council of Mortgage Lenders) as well as the big lenders such as Santander and Barclays as well as multiple house builders, developers and home owners.
What is a little peculiar in my little world is that for the last ten years or so I’ve been raising awareness about invasive species….yet now I seem to spend much of my time trying to lower the profile and calm people down!
The general UK population have gone from complete ignorance about invasive species ….to now being unable to sleep at night for fear of being abducted by something green and nasty at the bottom of the garden!
I take calls from people in floods of tears because they have found Japanese Knotweed in a field 75 metres from their house….and….because of this ….their dream house has been ruined and their lives are put on hold whilst the dreaded alien is dealt with…
PLEASE, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME….NOTHING HAS CHANGED…YOUR HOUSE IS SAFE,
YOUR DREAM HOME IS STILL YOUR DREAM HOME….
I’ve recently been involved with a variety of cases where Knotweed has caused an issue for no good reason;
- a house where Japanese knotweed was discovered significantly outside the boundary on an adjacent watercourse.
- a flat which couldn’t be sold due to Japanese Knotweed which was over 75 metres away
- and the odd case where the Japanese Knotweed issue was actually going to end up in court:
- property which was sold as ‘knotweed free’ – which then proved to have a major infestation
In the first two cases the knotweed issues were well outside of what would be considered a risk by any reasonable person. Calm and reasoned argument should win over the most cautious of lenders and a professional adviser (see www.innsa.org) should be able to resolve any conflict.
What I do think we will be getting more and more of - is the house owner who declares their property ‘Japanese Knotweed free’ – then is proven to be making a fraudulent statement when the plant raises its ugly head later in the year.
As home owners become more ‘savvy’ we will be getting people hiding their knotweed problems from visiting surveyors and hoping to retain their home value by not declaring issues or problems that they may have had. This will lead to claims by the new purchaser for;
- removal costs
- loss of property value
I strongly believe that over time – the market will calm down – we will get the odd case where somebody is trying to pull a fast one and hide their invasive species problems…but I believe that common sense will begin to prevail.
At the end of the day –
- Raise the profile – YES - Japanese Knotweed can be a problem and is a highly invasive non-native species
- Lower the profile – NO - it will NOT destroy your property
- Lower the profile – It’s a plant