Relief given for knotweed work

A largely ignored piece of legislation that came out in the Government's pre-budget report focuses on Japanese knotweed.

The legislation will be introduced in the Finance Bill 2009 to extend land remediation relief to cover expenditure incurred in remedying long-term derelict land, and on expenditure incurred in dealing with Japanese knotweed.

Chancellor Alistair Darling said: "Following the announcement in Budget 2008, draft legislation to extend land remediation relief to expenditure on long-term derelict land has been published for comment by stakeholders.

"This legislation will also include a number of changes to give companies greater certainty about what categories of expenditure qualify for relief for the remediation of land contaminated by previous industrial activity. In particular, the costs of eradicating Japanese knotweed."

Knotweed removal specialist TCM director Alison Downer welcomed the announcement: "We are pleased to see that ... Japanese knotweed eradication will qualify for relief. (Derelict) land is often infested with Japanese knotweed as a result of fly-tipping and it's good to see that the Government wants to encourage the clearance of these areas in a sustainable and responsible manner.

"This new initiative is particularly timely as it coincides with the abolishment of landfill tax exemption on 1 December, so that for land development in the future, the emphasis must be as much as possible on sustainable, in-situ solutions."

TCM is now treating knotweed wholly on site in places such as Cambourne, Cornwall, where it is soil-screening 7ha of land for Cornwall County Council to separate rhizomes from soil and incinerating on site, which cuts a massive amount of landfill.

Cornwall County Council vegetation adviser James McFarlane said: "Forward planning is the main thing when it comes to dealing with Japanese knotweed. The earlier you deal with it, the more economical it is. If this encourages people to deal with it on site then that's good."

- Writtle College's £100,000 Department of Trade & Industry research grant to fund a knowledge transfer project with TCM to im-prove eradication techniques has reached the halfway point.

Project leader Dr Pascaline Le Lay said a viability test for the rhizomes to assess effectiveness of eradiction and open a new market of consultancy for the company is now ready and patent-pending, adding: "The main source of propagation of Japanese knotweed is still related to human activity. This could be stopped by a proper education on the plant to both the public and some sectors of industry."

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