Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and other invasive weeds

You are responsible for the plants on your property and must ensure that you control their spread according to legislation and avoid damage to neighbouring properties.

Non-native plants are those species that have been brought into the UK. There are hundreds of non-native plants in the UK. Your business may come into contact with some of the most invasive ones, such as Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam. Invasive non-native plants can cause problems for native species and reduce biodiversity (the variety of living organisms). Invasive non-native species are now widely recognised as the second biggest threat to biodiversity worldwide. Japanese knotweed can block footpaths and damage concrete, tarmac, flood defenses and the stability of river banks. Giant hogweed can cause harm to human health.

Some native plants may require control:

  • In Northern Ireland, noxious weeds are native species, which cause problems for farming. They are harmful to livestock and must not be allowed to spread to agricultural land.
  • In Scotland, injurious weeds are those native species that you may be required to control if they are spreading and causing a nuisance.

This guide describes your legal obligations regarding non-native plants and invasive plants; how to identify and control invasive plants, using methods such as spraying, digging up, cutting and burning; and how to remove and dispose of them.

Relevant Business Topics:





Hunting, shooting and game breeding


Mining and quarrying                 


Additional resources


Useful Links

Invasive Species Ireland

Scottish Natural Heritage - non native species

Identifying invasive plants

It is important that you can identify invasive plants on your premises.

Read about how to identify invasive non-native species

Non-native and invasive plants environmental legislation

This page provides links to the full text of key pieces of environmental legislation relating to invasive weeds.

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