Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Non-native and invasive plants environmental legislation

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. The websites hosting the legislation may list amendments separately.

If you are setting up an environmental management system (EMS) for your business, you can use this list to start compiling your legal register. Your legal adviser or environmental consultant will be able to tell you if other environmental legislation applies to your specific business.
Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and environmental reports

Invasive plants Northern Ireland legislation

Noxious Weeds (Northern Ireland) Order SI 1977/52. Defines ragwort, thistle, dock and wild oat as noxious weeds and places a legal responsibility on landowners to prevent the spread of these weeds.

Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order SI 1985/171. (As amended) It is an offence under Article 15 if anyone plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any species of plant listed on Schedule 9 Part II.

Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. Includes new provisions and amends the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 and the Environment (Northern) Order 2002 to give protection to a greater range of plants, animals and birds, and to increase protection to Areas of Special Scientific Interest. Gives enforcement authorities new powers and sanctions against perpetrators of wildlife crime.

Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order (Northern Ireland) 2019 SR159

Imposes strict restrictions on a list of species known as ‘species of Union concern’. Species whose potential adverse impacts across the EU are such that concerted action across Europe is required. Restrictions mean that (subject to certain defences or exemptions) species of Union concern cannot be imported into the EU, kept, bred, transported, placed on the market, used or exchanged, allowed to reproduce, grown or cultivated, or released into the environment.


Non-native and invasive plants Scotland legislation

Weeds Act 1959. Provides a power for Ministers to serve orders requiring the control of injurious weeds.

Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Bans certain methods of killing or taking wild animals, including birds, and prohibits the release or planting of non-native species. Also contains powers to create secondary legislation further governing the use of the non-native species. See more details.

Environmental Protection Act 1990. Defines the legal framework for duty of care for waste, contaminated land and statutory nuisance.

Wildlife and Natural Environment (Scotland) Act 2011 Extends the regime for controlling non-native species and introduces new wildlife offences.

You may also need to know about and comply with legislation on:

In this Guideline

Your legal responsibilities in Northern Ireland

Your legal responsibilities in Scotland

Identifying invasive plants

Reporting non-native species

How invasive plants spread

Handling and working with invasive plants

Spraying invasive plants with herbicide

Digging up invasive plants

Cutting and burning invasive plants

Burying invasive plant material on site

Disposing of invasive plants and contaminated soils off-site

Non-native and invasive plants environmental legislation

Environmental News Blog

NetRegs on NetRegs on youTube

View our latest videos & subscribe to our channel.

NetRegs Update Newsletter

Free monthly email newsletter with environmental updates for Northern Ireland and Scotland

Sign up for free today!


NIEA - Apply online

SEPA - Application forms