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Invasive, non-native plants and the law
There are laws surrounding invasive non-native plants. Dumping unwanted plants - for example in a local stream or woodland - is an offence.
Section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (amended 2010) is to prevent the release into the wild of certain plants and animals which may cause ecological, environmental, or socio-economic harm.
It is Section 14A (2) that refers to Plants, and specifically plants listed on Part 2 of Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The full list of which have been listed on this page.
It is also an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild invasive non-native plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (see box, left) and after April 2014 it will be illegal the sell five invasive non-native aquatic species.
A brief history
In 2003, Defra produced a report that reviewed non-native species policy. It was in this report that banning the sale of invasive non-native species was recommended. In 2006, the necessary amendments were made to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act that meant the legislation was in place that gave Government the powers to ban the sale of invasive plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in order to be banned from sale. Schedule 9 was last updated in 2010.
- Plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales
- Plants listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in Scotland
On the 29th January 2013, Defra announced the development of a new regulation that will ban the sale of five invasive non-native aquatic plants under Section 14Z(a) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
The regulation came into force on 1st April 2014.
The five species that can no longer legally be sold in England and Wales include:
- Floating pennywort Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
- Floating water primroses Ludwigia spp.
- New Zealand pigmyweed aka Australian stonecrop Crassula helmsii
- Parrot’s-feather Myriophyllum aquaticum
- Water fern Azolla filiculoides
As of 1st January 2016 a new regulation from the European Union placed stringent controls on 14 non-native invasive plants. These are species that have been assessed as posing such a high risk of invasion within one or more EU member states that a co-ordinated, Europe-wide response is needed to limit their spread. It is now an offence to keep, cultivate, breed, transport, sell or exchange these species, or release them, intentionally or unintentionally, into the environment anywhere within the EU.