Weeds Act 1959
Weeds Act 1959 identifies five types of weeds which are
considered to be injurious:
- Common Ragwort
- Spear Thistle
- Creeping, or Field Thistle
- Broad Leaved Dock
- Curled Dock
For guidance on how to identify
these weeds, you can download
Guide to the Identification of Injurious Weeds (click on the
link at the bottom of the page).
Under the Weeds Act 1959 the
Secretary of State may serve an enforcement notice on the occupier
of land on which injurious weeds are growing. The
occupier must take action to prevent the spread of injurious
weeds if he receives an enforcement notice.
(Senecio jacobeae) poses a danger to all
grazing animals and as such Common Ragwort should be removed from
land used by grazing animals. In other areas, such as Melton
Country Park, it plays an important role in maintaining the
bio-diversity of the flora and fauna. It is important as a source
of food in late summer for generalist nectar feeding insects and is
the food plant for at least 77 foliage eating insects, the most
well known of these being
the cinnabar moth.
Many species of insects may be seen on Ragwort flowers. Some use
them as territory markers or as vantage points to find passing prey
or mates. Some species prey on other insect visitors to the
flowers, some are more closely associated with the ragwort flowers,
taking ragwort pollen, and more than 170 species have been recorded
feeding on ragwort nectar. Such an important source of insects is
exploited by birds and mammals.
At the bottom of the page is a link to the Code of Practice on
How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort. As well as providing advice
to landowners, it contains a lot of information on Ragwort and when
it is appropriate to prevent the spread of this plant.
Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is native to Europe, Asia and
North Africa. It is a tall, biennial thistle (a biennial plant is
one which flowers in its second year), with a pink flowering
Creeping, or Field Thistle
Creeping Thistle (Cirsium arvense) is an important
perennial thistle (a perennial plant is one which lives for more
than two years), whose seeds provide an important part of the diet
of farmland birds. However, the plant also provides food for many
insect pests, and can dominate large areas of uncultivated land if
Broad Leaved Dock
Leaved Dock (Rumex obstusifolius) is common throughout the
UK, and is easily identifiable thanks to its large leaves and stems
of green flowers, which turn red as they mature. The plant is
commonly used as a treatment for nettle stings.
(Rumex crispus) is also common throughout the UK, but
prefers clay, chalk or gravel soils. Taller than the Broad Leaved
Dock, it has leaves which are curled at the edges, with
flowering stems that can grow up to 1m in height. When mature, the
plants turn an attractive dark red colour. Like Broad Leaved Dock,
Curled Dock is believed to have medicinal properties, and is often
prescribed by herbalists as a cleansing tonic.
Other Injurious Weeds
Japanese Knotweed is not covered by the Weeds Act 1959,
but is dealt with instead through the Wildlife
and Countryside (Amendment) Act 1991.
What is Japanese Knotweed?
Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia
japonica) was introduced to Europe from the far east
(principally Japan, Taiwan and China) as an ornamental plant in the
early 19th century. As it has no natural enemies in Britain, it has
colonised many different types of habitat and is considered to
be a pest due to its rapid invasion of habitats at the expense of
other, native, plants.
Japanese Knotweed can also
damage property by growing through tarmac, or
can increase the chance of flooding by contributing
to soil erosion on river banks or by blocking streams, river
channels and gullies with its large dead stems.
The Law in Relation to Japanese
There is no statutory requirement
for landowners to remove Japanese Knotweed from their property.
However, due to its negative impact on native species, it is an
offence to plant, or cause this species to grow, in the
wild. In addition to this, Japanese Knotweed is considered
to be a hazardous waste material, and must be disposed of
Controlling the Spread of
The responsibility of controlling
the spread of harmful, or injurious weeds, rests with the occupier
of the land on which the weeds are growing.
If there is a risk that one of
the five injurious plants listed at the top of the page could
spread to neighbouring land, the Weeds Act 1959
the power to serve an enforcement notice to the occupier or
landowner to stop the weeds from spreading. Failure to comply
with such an enforcement notice is a criminal offence.
How can I report the growth of an
Depending on where the injurious
weeds are growing, you should contact one of the following:
- If the weed is growing on privately-owned land, contact
injurious weeds department
- If the weed is growing on Melton Borough Council-owned land,
please contact our Customer Services Team by calling (01664) 502
- If the weed is growing on the grass verges of minor
roads, please contact Leicestershire County Council's Highways
Department by calling (0116) 305 0001.
- If the weed is growing on the grass verges of major trunk
roads, please contact the Highways
- If the weeds are growing on railway embankments, please contact
There is lots of information on the
internet regarding the identification and control of injurious
weeds and Japanese Ragwort.