Weed control - The weeds act 1959

The Weeds Act 1959 classifies certain species of weed that grow in the UK for specific control. Under the Weeds Act the Secretary of State for the Department Environment, Food and Rural Affairs can, if satisfied that specified weeds are growing upon any land, serve a notice requiring the occupier to take action to prevent the spread of those weeds. An unreasonable failure to comply with a notice is an offence.

The Weeds Act only applies to:

  • Common Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea);
  • Spear Thistle (Cirsium vulgare);
  • Creeping or Field Thistle (Cirsium arvense);
  • Curled Dock (Rumex crispus);
  • Broad-Leaved Dock (Rumex obtusifolius);

And enables the government to investigate complaints where there is a risk that injurious weeds might spread.

Responsibility for control of specified weeds rests with the occupier of the land on which the weeds are growing. When seeking to prevent the spread of specified weeds, all landowners, occupiers and managers should co-operate and, where necessary, take a collective responsibility for ensuring that effective control of the spread of specified weeds.

Advice on the control of specified weeds and landowners statutory responsibilities can be obtained from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs at:

  • Address: Information Resource Centre, Lower Ground Floor, Ergon House, c/o Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London, SW1P 3JR

Or visit the government website which contains excellent advice on how to control or eradicate specified weeds from land.

For advice concerning how to control specified weeds or to make a complaint about the failure to control specified weeds on land contact DEFRA, Injurious Weeds Section at Crewe on 01270 754000.

Where specified weeds are growing on verges of large main roads (trunk roads) or motorways in the district, control and eradication is the responsibility of the Highways Agency:

What about weeds not covered by the Weeds Act 1959

Under section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it can be an offence to plant or grow Japanese Knotweed however; there is no statutory requirement for landowners to remove these plants from their property once established naturally.



Last Updated on Thursday, April 11, 2024