Developers should review site environmental and nuisance risk in light of knotweed decision


By Richard Walford

Two recent Court decisions have underlined the importance of developers managing site risk posed by liabilities for nuisance and environmental hazards. 

Earlier this month Truro County Court in Adam Smith and Eleanor Smith v Rosemary Line found a landowner responsible for a 10% diminution in value arising from allowing Japanese knotweed to spread onto neighbouring land. The case reminds developers of the importance of identifying and proactively managing site risks, especially any that may arise or perpetuate ahead of formal commencement of development.

 The second case has even wider implications. Earlier in 2017 in Williams v Network Rail Infrastructure the court suggested that a damages claim could be brought by neighbouring landowners even before any actual physical damage had been caused to their land. This was on the basis of the potential effect on the amenity value of the neighbouring land. That case is currently under appeal but the impact is clearly very significant. 

 Planting or causing Japanese Knotweed to grow is already a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. This includes allowing contaminated soil or plant material to spread into the wild whilst disposing of soil which is contaminated. The cost of disposal also needs to be taken into account by developers as appropriate landfills and registered waste carriers must be used for disposal of contaminated soil. 

 Begonia Filguera is Foot Anstey's environmental law specialist in this area with considerable expertise in relation to land contamination. Begonia is able to assist developers in relation to all aspects of site environmental concerns.  

Japanese weed tied neighbours in knots Will Humphries February 9 2018, 5:00pm, The Times Adam Smith said the weed spread from Rosemary Line’s land near his homeSWNSA couple have won a landmark case against their neighbour after claiming they lost £50,000 in the value of their home when Japanese knotweed invaded their garden. Adam and Eleanor Smith took Rosemary Line, 74, to court in a dispute over the weed, with each side blaming the other for spreading it.
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