A company based in Wales claims it has the answer for hundreds of sites which are too expensive to develop or build on because they are blighted by Japanese Knotweed. The announcement follows a report by the UN-backed CABI environmental organisation entitled 'The Economic Cost of Invasive Non-Native Species to Great Britain', which in 2010 estimated the cost of Japanese Knotweed on GB development sites alone at £150 million- a figure which has rocketed as Landfill Tax has massively increased the cost of removing contaminated soil.
"Sites are lying undeveloped because many owners fear it's too expensive to clear Japanese Knotweed," said Steve Blunt of GroundCover DBM, which specialises in landscape design, build and management. "Conventional 'dig and dump' removal of knotweed involves excavating and transporting hundreds of cubic metres of soil to landfill, where it is now taxed at £80 per tonne. A typical 200 cubic metre excavation will cost around £20,000 in contractor charges and tax - and leave a big hole in the ground."
Mr Blunt claims his company's on-site Klaro® service (top left) effectively removes all traces of Japanese Knotweed at around half the total cost of 'dig and dump', and leaves processed soil on site, ready for development. The system has been used successfully for 15 years, with clients including the 2012 London Olympics, Welsh Government and Scottish local authorities, together with commercial and industrial landowners, developers and contractors across the UK.
He added: "Unlike wholesale excavation, the Klaro service removes only the Japanese Knotweed, including root fragments. Landfill costs are minimal and because the Government wants to encourage treatment as an alternative to dumping, clients can usually offset expenses by claiming Land Remediation Tax Credits. The bottom line is that using Klaro is typically half the cost of 'dig and dump'."
Because Japanese Knotweed is classed as a Controlled Waste, the Klaro service operates under an Environmental Permit from the Environment Agency. It uses a self-propelled, chemical-free soil processing unit, purpose-designed for removing Japanese Knotweed by GroundCover DBM, which has offices in Port Talbot, South Wales, and Ruthin, North Wales.
The GroundCover DBM website includes a useful free guide for identifying Japanese Knotweed at each stage of growth, together with options for eradicating it. The company also offers feasibility studies for building and development site owners to identify the most cost-effective knotweed control and eradication methods.