To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to inform the public about the spread of (a) Japanese knotweed and (b) other harmful weeds; and if his Department will take steps to provide further support to the public to help tackle these weeds.
The Government recognises the threats posed by invasive species, including Japanese knotweed, and has a comprehensive Great Britain Non-native Species Strategy designed to tackle these threats. Japanese knotweed is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which makes it an offence to allow the plant to escape or cause it to grow in the wild. The Weeds Act 1959 allows the Secretary of State for Defra to take statutory action to control the spread of five other harmful weeds, including common ragwort which is the most reported of these.
The Government also run awareness raising campaigns such as 'Be Plant Wise' and Invasive Species Week, as well as providing species information and online training materials on biosecurity on the GB NNSS website.
In addition, the Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort supports the public by providing guidance on the most appropriate means of ragwort control, taking into account both animal welfare and environmental considerations.
Defra also continues to fund biocontrol research to tackle Japanese knotweed. It is hoped that this will provide a cost and time effective way of managing this species.