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They think it’s all over ….

As I travel around the country I see different levels of knowledge about invasive species and the impacts that they have.

These differing levels range from the ones in a complete panic to those that are complacent. The ones in a panic have generally heard all the horror stories of damage to buildings and loss of value of property …and then have suddenly found that there is a huge infestation at the bottom of their garden. Those that are complacent have usually had a ‘friend’ who had a problem…but it… ‘got sorted’.

What is interesting to see is that the level of awareness has risen to the point where very few people now say, ‘What? Never heard of that …?’ …when faced with the infamous Japanese knotweed. TV programmes like ‘Countryfile’ and ‘Tonight’ have run fairly major pieces on invasive species which has meant that most people have seen dramatic pictures of houses impacted by the dreaded weed – these types of images do tend to remain in your mind long after the TV programme has finished.

For over fifteen years now I have been raising the profile of all things invasive and non-native and I feel that I am pretty well placed to comment on what is happening in the UK.

Every once in a while something ‘new’ comes into the construction industry. Whether it be a new material for roofing or paving or walling – maybe a new damp proof system …whatever…maybe a new invasive species?

1. You then get a focus of activity when the company that invented/created the product are the ONLY ones offering the service. This could be deemed the ‘initial phase’.

2. You then get the flurry of activity phase when other companies copy what the inventor company has come up with. This could be called the ‘rapid expansion phase’

3. You then get an over population of companies where there simply isn’t enough work to go round. The ‘saturation phase’…

4. Then there will be a disappearance of many of the poorer quality companies – the ‘extinction phase’…

I would suggest that we have been through phase one and two – and are currently in the ‘saturation phase’.

What people need to be aware of is that with invasive species management it isn’t as simple as – say a paving supplier. Let’s say you employ the cheap paving supplier who then ceases to trade – you’ve got some cheap shitty paving but that’s your fault …not the end of the world.

If however, you employ a cheap company to deal with your invasive plant problem and he goes bump – slightly different set of issues – your invasive species that needed spraying for five years suddenly isn’t getting sprayed ….and its coming back with a vengeance.

Poorly sprayed plants are actually more difficult to kill than those that have had no chemical treatment at all…

I am convinced that as we go forward there will be a whole influx of work from poorly managed projects where inexperienced companies have been employed cheaply to deal with complex issues.

We often lose work on the back of inexperienced surveyors putting in cheap prices for works on which they just don’t understand what will be required. They allow for a single season spray of well-established stands of knotweed and don’t allow in their price for return visits.

They basically take the money and run…

So please, when looking for a contractor to deal with your invasive species problem – don’t… ‘think it’s all over’ …after a single spray …don’t expect that the cheapest price is going to be the best value…and remember not all of these knotweed companies will be around when your problem returns.

Phase 4 is just around the corner.

Mike C

NB – JKSL celebrating 15 years of successfully completed projects – the longest established sole provider of Japanese knotweed solutions… in the world.