Environmental guidance for your business in Northern Ireland & Scotland

Your legal responsibilities in Northern Ireland

Invasive plants in Northern Ireland - your legal responsibilities

Invasive non-native plants are species which have been brought into the UK that have the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health and the way we live.

Invasive plants are listed in schedule 9 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985, as amended by section 27 schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011.

Schedule 9 of the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985

Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland 2011

If you have invasive plants on your premises you have a responsibility to prevent them spreading into the wild or causing a nuisance.

You must not plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild any plant listed on schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

If you have invasive plants on land that you own or occupy, you must comply with specific legal responsibilities, including:

You do not need to notify anyone about the invasive plants on your land. However you should record and report non-native species. See the page in this guideline: Reporting of non-native species.

Noxious weeds in Northern Ireland

Noxious weeds are native species whose productivity is considered able to cause harm to agriculture.

The 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.

The Plant Health Inspectorate Branch within DAERA, is responsible for enforcement of the Noxious Weeds Order (NI) 1977. If you want to report noxious weeds growing on or affecting agricultural land you can ring DAERA Helpline- 0300 200 7843 and the relevant inspector will be informed.

In Northern Ireland the seven species of noxious weed are:

  • common wild oat
  • winter wild oat
  • spear thistle
  • creeping thistle
  • broad leafed dock
  • curled leafed dock
  • common ragwort

If you have any noxious weeds on your land, you are responsible for controlling them. You must prevent them from spreading onto adjoining land.

DAERA has powers under the Order to insist that these weeds are controlled under notice and failure to comply with such a requirement could result in prosecution and/or Basic Payment penalty.

DAERA: Control Noxious Weeds

 DAERA: Herbicides for the control of noxious weeds on grassland

Further information

Invasive Species Ireland: Information on non-native species

Invasive Species Ireland: Field guide to invasive species in Ireland

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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

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