Lancashire’s Japanese knotweed hotspots mapped and signs homeowners must watch out for

Blackburn ranks top of the list while Preston, Haslingden, Chorley and Burnley have all been identified

Experts have revealed five areas across Lancashire where Japanese knotweed could be growing close to your home.

The plant is often a major headache for property owners as it can grow up to seven feet tall, cause damage to properties and be extremely difficult to remove. Throughout spring, Japanese knotweed emerges from the ground as purple or red asparagus-like shoots, before growing into lush green shrubs with heart or shovel-shaped leaves.

It can grow up to 10cm a day between May and July and by mid-summer reach heights of around three metres. Environet UK has used an online tracker to reveal where the Japanese knotweed hotspots are for this year, and Blackburn ranks top of the list.

Blackburn also appears in fourth place in the national rankings, making it one of the worst-affected locations in Great Britain. Blackburn, Preston, Haslingden, Chorley and Burnley have all been identified as hotspots, according to Environet.

Blackburn had 407 infestations within a 4km radius, Preston recorded 279 infestations, Haslingden 243, Chorley 202 and Burnley 198. The online tracker allows people to search by postcode to discover the number of reported sightings nearby with all new sightings added daily.

Japanese knotweed, also known as Reynoutria japonica, is a part of the buckwheat and knotweed family and originates in East Asia. It arrived in the UK in the 1800s when it was considered an ornamental plant, but has since been considered a scourge in the country’s homes and gardens.

While causing damage to property is usually the primary concern, it can also spark legal battles between neighbours as the presence of knotweed can rack up bills of thousands of pounds in legal or removal fees. It can grow up to 10cm per day in summer, leading to fears of the problem spiralling out of control at a rapid rate.

According to Environet’s research, approximately 5% of homes are currently affected by knotweed, either directly or indirectly, but sales can proceed as long as a professional treatment plan is in place with an insurance-backed guarantee to satisfy mortgage lenders.

Nic Seal, founder and Managing Director of Environet, said: “Japanese knotweed tends to strike fear into the hearts of homeowners but as long as they’re aware of its presence and take action to remove it before it causes any serious damage or spreads to a neighbour’s property, there’s no reason to panic. By publishing the 2022 hotspots for Lancashire we hope to raise awareness and encourage people in the area to be vigilant for signs of knotweed as the growing season takes off, so they can act quickly if needed. Anyone living near or moving to one of these hotspots would be wise to check their garden carefully, enter their postcode into Exposed to find out how many known occurrences are nearby and if in doubt, seek expert help.”

How to spot Japanese knotweed

  • Asparagus-like spears emerge from the ground in early spring and begin to sprout pale green leaves with distinctive pink veins
  • In May the plant starts to grow rapidly. The stems harden into bamboo-like structures and the leaves, which grow in a zigzag pattern up the stem, are lush, green and heart-shaped
  • By mid-summer the plant grows at a rate of around 10cm per day, with mature plants forming dense stands two or three metres tall
  • In August the plant blooms, with small clusters of creamy white flowers appearing on the upper leaf axials.What to do if you think you have Japanese knotweed
    • If you find a suspicious-looking plant and you’re not sure what it is, check out the identification guide on Environet’s website or use the free ID service by sending a photo to expert@environetuk.com
    • Once knotweed is confirmed, commission a professional Japanese knotweed survey to find out the extent of the infestation, where it originated and the best way to tackle it
    • Arrange professional treatment, usually herbicide or excavation, and always be sure to secure an insurance-backed guarantee for the work
    • Sellers are legally obliged to tell any potential buyer if a property has been affected by knotweed, even if the infestation has been treated
    • It’s not illegal to have knotweed on your land, but you will be liable if you allow it to spread to someone else’s property through inaction
    • If you’re buying a property and you want to be sure it’s clear of knotweed, particularly if it’s located in or near a hotspot, arrange a detection dog survey.
    • To view Japanese knotweed infestations in your area or to report a sighting by uploading a photo to be verified by experts, visit: https://environetuk.com/exposed-japanese-knotweed-heat-map

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