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 avoid damage to neighbouring properties.

Non-native plants

Non-native plants are those species that have been brought into the UK.

There are hundreds of non-native plants in the UK. Animals and plants that have been introduced by human actions to parts of the world outside their natural range are known as non-native species. Most of these do not cause any problems.

Non-native Invasive Species are those that have been introduced (deliberately or accidentally) by people, and have a detrimental impact on the economy, wildlife or habitats.

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.

In Northern Ireland DAERA has produced an updated Implementation Plan of the Invasive Alien Species Strategy. The revised Plan contains 21 key actions, the majority of which will be delivered by the Department. 

DAERA: NI Invasive Alien Species Revised Implementation Plan (Revised 2018)

Further information

NIEA Invasive Species Ireland

Noxious/Injurious Weeds such as Thistles and Ragwort

Some native plants may also 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

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