A MAP has revealed the worst areas for Japanese Knotweed invasions in the UK.
The dangerous plant has cost taxpayers £286,429 in the last five years as Brits complain about infestations in their gardens coming from council-owned sites, UK Times can reveal.
The worst offender was St Albans in Hertfordshire, where £50,887 was paid out to one household in 2018.
It comes as garden experts issued a warning about the invasive plant as there are more than 50,000 infestations in the UK.
Some 19 councils have faced successful claims for compensation after the intrusive weed took over gardens and damaged properties since 2017, according to a Freedom of Information request response.
Rochdale Metropolitan Borough faced the most complaints in the UK, with 203 in the last five years, according to council figures.
And Warrington Council comes next, with 172 complaints.
Meanwhile Lancaster City Council faced 129 and Worcestershire County Council 117.
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council reported 101 complaints in the last five years.
Brits have been urged to be on the look-out for the plant this spring.
“The easiest way to do this is by spraying them with chemicals, digging them out or burning them.”
Japanese knotweed is one of Britain’s most invasive plants.
It has bamboo-like stems and produces clusters of small white flowers.
The plant grows and spreads rapidly and can cause significant damage to property and infrastructure.
It is difficult to eradicate once it has become established.
The experts say it is important to bring in professional help to remove it, as even the smallest piece left in the ground can regrow.
Anyone hoping to sell their property is urged to get a professional survey done by an RICS surveyor.
This will help protect you from any potential legal action from the buyers if knotweed is later discovered on the property.
Where Japanese Knotweed encroaches on a home from a council-owned site Brits can sue for compensation.
Some 18 councils were successfully sued 19 times since 2017, according to figures seen by the Sun Online.
Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council paid £29,400 for one claim in 2022.
And in Fareham one homeowner was paid £13,500 in taxpayer’s money.
While Knowsley Metropolitan Borough paid £11,122 in 2018, the London Borough of Havering paid £12,500 in 2019 and then another £15,000 in 2021.
In Preston a claim for £46,000 was successful, and in Rochdale one claimant got £22,708 in 2021 because of an infestation.
Fines for the Japanese knotweed can go up to £34,000, but a recent lawsuit against a seller whose property had the plant came to £200,000, according to Mr Sutcliffe.
If a landowner has knotweed growing in the garden of their property they should make every effort to control the knotweed and prevent the weed from spreading onto a neighbouring property, he added.
If they fail to do this they could be held responsible for the damage caused by the encroachment.
If you are able to prove that your property is affected by knotweed the landowner of the adjacent property could be held responsible.
Anyone who is thinking of taking possible action against a landowner for knotweed is initially urged to give the landowner the opportunity to deal with the problem.
You should ask your neighbour to effectively treat the knotweed not only on their land but also on your property in order to deal with the problem.
It is best to put this down in writing.
You may also need to get a specialist survey done.
This will provide a written document that will accurately identify the knotweed and its location.
Should the neighbour not comply with the notice, a claim for “nuisance for encroachment” can be pursued through legal channels.
UK Times Online has contacted St Albans City Council, Rochdale Borough Council, Warrington Council, Lancaster City Council, Worcestershire County Council, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council, Fareham Borough Council, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough and the London Borough of Havering for comment.