Japanese knotweed running rampant in Frodsham quarry thanks to fly-tippers

It’s the bane of homeowners and gardeners everywhere and now a quarry in Frodsham has fallen foul of the dreaded Japanese knotweed.

Fly-tippers have introduced the pernicious plant onto the United Utilities’ owned land and left a lot of other mess besides.

The water firm is now battling to remove the rapid-spreading plant along with other rubbish that has been dumped over the old stone bridge that runs above the old quarry which is also the location of an important borehole where drinking water is abstracted for supply to the local area.

Veronika Moore, United Utilities’ catchment advisor for the area, commented: “It’s very irresponsible, incredibly unsightly, not to mention a criminal offence, yet during lockdown there’s sadly been a dramatic rise in fly-tipping.

“At the Five Crosses quarry, garden waste contaminated with Japanese Knotweed has been fly-tipped and has now spread across the site.

“Japanese Knotweed is a garden weed that can spread rapidly and in the summer it can grow to over two metres high. 

“The plant is notoriously hard to get rid of, costing sometimes thousands in professional removals.

“Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it is an offence to cause Japanese knotweed to grow in the wild,” she added.

Fly-tipping is a serious criminal offence. The courts have various powers available to them to tackle fly-tipping, including imprisonment, substantial fines of up to £50,000, orders to pay costs and an order to deprive rights to a vehicle used to commit the offence.

Householders have a legal responsibility to check the firm they hire to remove household waste has a waste carriers licence and can do this on the Environment Agency's website. Householders should also ask the waste carrier for a receipt documenting the waste that was taken. Anyone who fails to carry out these checks, or retain the necessary paperwork, could be liable to pay a fixed penalty notice of £200 for a householder and £300 for a business, or face prosecution.

Veronika Moore said existing problems with fly-tipping had noticeably increased: “Fly tipping is extremely unsightly and unwelcome for visitors and expensive for landowners, like ourselves, to remove.

“Despite these difficulties, there are things that we can all do to try and reduce this blot on our landscapes. 

“If you are thinking of paying someone to take away your rubbish, check https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers to make sure they are a licensed waste carrier.

United Utilities owns and manages 56,000 hectares of land covering some of the most vibrant and diverse natural environments in England. The company strives to achieve a balance between encouraging public access and protecting water quality, wildlife and habitats.