TACKLING JAPANESE KNOTWEED AND BOGUS CONTRACTORS

-

FOOD FOR THOUGHT FROM HERPETOSURE’S EXPERT SIMON YORK

So, you have Japanese knotweed on your site; what do you do? Where does your responsibility start and finish? And how can you move your project forward? These questions are all well justified, however the most poignant question that developers and consultants are now asking themselves is – who can I trust?

Transparency is King – no one likes to feel like they have been had, nor are they comfortable with parting with their own or their client’s cash, without clearly understanding what they’re getting for their money.

There are few industries out there where consumers are almost forced into leaving a problem in someone else’s hands, however technology related services echo this scenario – this is to some extent the case with Japanese knotweed, where smoke and mirrors are often used by others to bamboozle customers.

We are not anti innovation, in fact we are quite the opposite, but customers should go for theoretically sound and proven solutions; buying into the newest or most high-tech methodology, impressive as it may appear, is not always the best step forward – the acid test is whether it eradicates knotweed permanently and on time, or not!

Anyone who has had a knotweed experience will tell of the huge price variations between contractors, and for that reason customers should be aware that when it comes to invasive weeds, the devil really is in the detail – it is vital that when making price comparison between quotes that it is on a like for like basis – If someone tells you they can eradicate knotweed at half the price of other tenderee’s then something is amiss.

As is often the case, there are the good, the bad, and the not to be trusted, so choose wisely. Remember the most effective way to reduce costs and move projects forward is to involve a solid knotweed contractor at the planning or feasibility stage, it is the only way to make sound commercial decisions.

The longer you spend talking to a JK contractor the more time you will have to work out whether their proposal will work and if it illustrates best value. So often I receive tenders which have ‘fire fighting’ written all over them; the problem has been put off to the eleventh hour and damage limitation has become the priority – we can still be effective, although this is when knotweed costs are at there most frightening.

So what is the first step; as soon as you know you have invasive weeds on-site call your JK contractor and arrange a site visit – if the job is large enough these will be free of charge, in some instance where projects are very small you may be asked to cover expenses; site visits are critical if you are to achieve best value. They will also give you your first insight as to what you are up against, and who you are potentially signing up to work with.

Step two, The Proposal; this is where a good contractor will really begin to stand out from the crowd – developing an innovative programme that suits you. The right contractor may even look at what aspects of the process you can deliver yourself under supervision, vs. what should be left to us. If you are a developer or main contractor, for example, this approach will not only help you understand the eradication process, it will also mean that in dig and dump/ cell burial situation, your own plant and operatives could be involved to help drive down costs.

The proposal will also factor in the timescale within which to eradicate the knotweed. The more time you have the better; you may be surprised to hear that costs of herbicidal treatment in one growing season can be as little as 10% of what instant eradication would be.

Step 3, Delivery; whatever the timescale or the strategy the invasive weed contractor will need to liaise with your on-site staff. Again, good JK contractors will put this idea forward – their management team should take the lead in making all other contractors aware of the implications of JK and will make themselves available to give advice – contractors spreading knotweed across the site is frequent problem, and it’s all due to poor communication and a lack of understanding.