Invasive plants covered by legislation in the UK and Ireland

Invasive non-native species

Invasive plants

FACT: There are 1,402 non-native plants established in the wild in Great Britain, of which 108 (8%) are stated to have a negative impact.

What UK legislation covers invasive non-native plants?

The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) recognised the need to control certain species of invasive plants and animals already causing a problem in the UK, listing them in Schedule 9. Originally only giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) and Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) were listed. However, in April 2010 a further 36 plants were added onto Schedule 9 (see below for a download of the list). A recent amendment to the Wildlife and Countryside Act has a new provision to ban specific plants from sale. In April 2014 a ban on sale of five of the worst invasive water plants in the UK came into force. The five species banned from sale are:

Azolla filiculoides
Crassula helmsii
Hydrocotyle ranunuculoides
Ludwigia grandiflora and L. peploides
Myriophyllum aquaticum

The development of policy and legislation in relation to the environment is one of the areas that falls under the devolved administrations;

  • Wales: covered by the Wildlife & Countryside Act but with separate amendments
  • Northern Ireland: covered by the Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Northern Ireland) 2011. This includes a provision for the ban on sale of animal and plant species listed in Schedule 9, as specified in an order issued by Northern Ireland Executive Department of the Environment. At the present time it is not clear whether any such order has been made
  • Scotland: a new Wildlife and Natural Environment Act (Scotland) 2011 is now in force making it illegal to plant any non-native plant in the wild in Scotland

FACT: It is a criminal offence to plant or cause to grow a non-native invasive species that is listed on Schedule 9 in the wild which carries penalties of up to £5,000 fine and/or 2 years imprisonment.

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