Invasive Species - Giant Hogweed
You may have heard about how Giant Hogweed has been thriving during lockdown or about it being the 'most dangerous plant in the UK'. In this blog we will be discussing what it is, the dangers of coming into contact with it, legislation in which it is covered and how to deal with the plant as a land owner.
What is Giant Hogweed?
Giant hogweed (also referred to as Heracleum Mantegazzianum) is a non-native plant which belongs to the Apiaceae family and originates from the Caucasus Mountains and Central Asia. The plant was first introduced to the UK in the 19th century and has since neutralised in the wild. It benefits from large, umbrella shaped flower heads with clustered flowers. When fully grown, it can reach heights between 1.5 metres to 5 metres and have a spread between 1 metre to 2 metres.
What are the dangers of coming into contact with Giant Hogweed?
The sap of the giant hogweed contains furocoumarin and as such can cause burns by making your skin particularly sensitive to sunlight so when you are exposed to the sun, your skin can exhibit blistering which can recur over months and in worst cases, years!
The main 5 hazards of giant hogweed are associated with flood defence, health, reduction in biodiversity, restriction to access and recreation, and cost or time delays for development.
Legislation which covers Giant Hogweed
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (as amended) - You must not plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild
Environmental Protection Act 1990 - The soil that contains hogweed seeds becomes controlled waste and such needs to be taken to licensed landfill sites
Anti-social Crime and Policing Act 2014 - Local authorities and the police can issue land owners with a Community Protection Notice.
Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019 - As a regulated species: Issuing of Enforcement Orders
Town and Country Planning Act 1990 or Common Law (injuries, damage caused etc.)
5 Step Action Plan for Dealing with Giant Hogweed
Step 1 - You must be aware of the relevant legislation and guidance in order to understand your responsibilities.
Step 2 - You must take immediate measures to reduce risk and/or liability and then assess the hazards and the risks posed.
Step 3 - Once the risks have been assessed, you must identify the potential pathways used or that can be used and review control options.
Step 4 - Produce an invasive species management plan.
Step 5 - Ensure that you have an appropriate biosecurity strategy/protocol to prevent the spread of the plant.
If you think you may have Giant Hogweed on your site or need assistance in managing the plant, get in touch with our Building Surveying team to discuss your requirements.