A BRIDLINGTON based landowner has been fined £1,000 for allowing a dangerous and invasive weed to grow on a plot of Wibsey land - threatening neighbouring homes.

Despite repeated calls to clear the site of the dangerous plant, the work was never done, and now the landowner has until August to clear the site or face further action.

Bradford and Keighley Magistrates Court was told that nearby properties were potentially in danger from the encroaching Japanese Knotweed from an overgrown area of land on the north of Chapel Street.

A Bradford Council enforcement officer visited the land after receiving complaints from home owners living on neighbouring The Meadows estate, whose property was under threat from the weed - a bamboo-like invader which can cause terminal damage to houses. On the site, he found a large area of knotweed canes which had collapsed and intertwined with new shoots growing through the previous years’ growth.

Unchecked, Japanese Knotweed and its extensive root system can cause structural damage to property, drains and can even grow through tarmac.

It is one of the world’s worst invasive plant species and its spread causes serious threats to biodiversity, forestry and agriculture.

After visiting the site, the Officer contacted the landowner, James Bateman, of Cardigan Road, Bridlington, and issued a Community Protection Warning Letter asking him to dispose of the weed using a qualified expert by April 10 last year.

A subsequent visit on April 16 found that no work had been carried out to eradicate the weed prompting the officer to issue a Community Protection Notice requiring the work to be carried out by June 1.

By the time of another visit on June 19 the work had still not been carried out.

Mr Bateman was contacted and informed that he was being prosecuted and was told to contact the court or the Council if he wanted to enter a plea or ask for an adjournment in the case.

No contact was received and on Friday he was found guilty in his absence of failing to comply with the Community Protection Notice.

As well as the fine, Mr Bateman was ordered to pay £648.80 costs and a Victim Surcharge of £100.

Magistrates also issued a Remedial Notice requiring treatment of the weed to be completed by August or he could face further court action.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “Neglecting to remove certain weeds not only causes an eyesore it also puts other people’s homes under direct threat of damage.

“Taking people to court is not the ideal solution to this kind of problem but we were left with no choice in this instance.

“We would much rather people acted sensibly in the first place and behaved with consideration towards their neighbours and the environment.”

Anyone wanting to dispose of Japanese Knotweed should take expert advice before acting as it has to be got rid of in a controlled way.

The court case comes just a few months after the UK’s first successful Japanese Knotweed prosecution.

In December Bristol Council took MB Estate Limited to court for failing to control the spread of Japanese Knotweed. The company was fined £18,000 plus costs.