There are many messages about how to control invasive non-native plants. The Environment Agency have written guidance notes for managing INNS and these can be downloaded for free by clicking on the below link:


The law can seem a bit confusing when it comes to invasive non-native species which is why on this page we have tried to make it simple and clear. To learn more about each law, click on the links.

The UK has international obligations to address INNS issues principally the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) and including the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the Bern Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Habitats and the EC Habitats Directive.

The UK also has its own laws that relate to INNS and these are highlighted below:

Section 14 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981)

Section 14 of The Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (WCA) is the principal legislation dealing with non-native species. The WCA has been amended in relation to England and Wales by various pieces of legislation, including the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Variation of Schedule 9) (England and Wales) Order 2010, the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 and theCountryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Environmental Protection Act 1990

Environmental Protection Act 1990 contains a number of legal provisions concerning “controlled waste”, which are set out in Part II. Any Japanese knotweed or giant hogweed contaminated soil or plant material discarded is likely to be classified as controlled waste. This means that offences exist with the deposit, treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste without a licence.

The Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994

The Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994 define the licensing requirements which include “waste relevant objectives”. These require that waste is recovered or disposed of “without endangering human health and without using processes or methods which could harm the environment”.

Import of Live Fish Act (1980)

Import of Live Fish Act (1980) and the Prohibition of Keeping Live Fish (crayfish) Order (1996)–An Act to restrict in England and Wales the import, keeping or release of live fish or shellfish or the live eggs or milt of fish or shellfish of certain species. Under the Crayfish Order it is an offence to keep any crayfish in England and Wales, except under license with the exception of the Signal crayfish. A license is only required for those parts of England and Wales where extensive populations do not currently exist. This is shown by the green areas on the map below.

Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Local authorities also have some relevant powers from Section 215 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which provides the authority with a discretionary power to require landowners to clean up ‘land adversely affecting the amenity of the neighbourhood’ which may be relevant to control of INNS such as Japanese knotweed.

Invasive Non-Native Species and Methods of Control

For information on invasive non-native species and methods of control, visit the NetRegs website.

The procedures for the detection, notification and control of fish diseases procedures are already well defined by fisheries legislation. This stipulates the Environment Agency acts on behalf of the Government in respect to the suspicion of the presence of notifiable fish diseases and organises and coordinates the response to that outbreak.