Invasion of Japanese knotweed putting house at risk - family fears

Sam Bates, with with son Frankie, looks at some of the Japanese knotweed growing in their home. Pict

Sam Bates, with with son Frankie, looks at some of the Japanese knotweed growing in their home. Picture: ROB MORRIS - Credit: Archant

A street in Soham is in danger of being overrun by Japanese knotweed after a family’s pleas to get the problem tackled were repeatedly delayed.

The Japanese knotweed has started to take over the Bates family home. Picture: ROB MORRIS

The Japanese knotweed has started to take over the Bates family home. Picture: ROB MORRIS - Credit: Archant

Chris and Sam Bates first noticed a shoot of the invasive weed growing in their garden, in Eastern Avenue, last summer and immediately reported it to their landlord, Sanctuary Housing.

But Mr Bates, 24, says it took Sanctuary months to respond to the issue, by which time the plant had taken over his garden and forced an outbuilding to break free of his house.

The rapacious weed has now moved inside the outbuilding and Mr Bates, a father-of-three, fears it could bring the building crashing down.

Such has been the spread of the weed that it has already taken over a shed belonging to the Bates’ 80-year-old neighbour.

Sam Bates, with with son Frankie, looks at some of the Japanese knotweed growing in their home. Pict

Sam Bates, with with son Frankie, looks at some of the Japanese knotweed growing in their home. Picture: ROB MORRIS - Credit: Archant


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He said: “Sanctuary have been telling me for 18 months that they will investigate it but I keep getting fobbed off and I have had enough.

“The knotweed has taken over the garden and spread all around the outside of the house. It has got into an outbuilding and forced it to come away from the house and I am worried it will get into the foundations as well.

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“They came out in March and confirmed it was knotweed but haven’t been back to do anything about it.”

Japanese knotweed is listed by the Government as an invasive non-native species which has the potential to harm wildlife and biodiversity in the UK.

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, knotweed can grow as much as 20cm per day and can grow to more than 7ft tall.

The weed is classed as controlled waste under the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 and can only be disposed of at licensed premises.

A spokesman for Sanctuary Housing said: “Japanese knotweed is a highly invasive plant and to irradiate it is very difficult. It needs to be treated carefully in order to ensure it does not contaminate a wider area, and we will be working to cut back the plants at Mr Bates’ home.

“Trimming Japanese knotweed during warmer months only encourages more rigorous growth, so we needed to wait until the plant was dormant to carry out this work. We will also be treating the plant repeatedly over the coming months in order to kill it completely.”

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