EXCLUSIVE: Transport for Wales is ordered to pay pensioner, 74, nearly £10,000 in damages after ‘nightmare’ Japanese Knotweed infestation near railway line ravaged his house

  • Richard Pember’s home could now be worth a fraction of what he bought it for

Transport for Wales has been ordered to pay a pensioner almost £10,000 in damages after a ‘nightmare’ Japanese Knotweed infestation ravaged his home.

Richard Pember, 74, purchased the property in Pontypridd, South Wales, 11 years ago, but now worries it could be worth a fraction of what he paid after the invasive plant wreaked havoc on the land.

The infestation, which is believed to have spread from a railway line behind the house, was first noticed by Richard in 2016 as it started encroaching on his garden.

It soon turned into a nightmare scenario for the pensioner as the plant grew over 20 feet by 2020, taking over his home in Hopkinstown.

TfW, the railway board responsible for the land where the infestation originated, failed to adequately treat the growth which led to the eventual intrusion onto Richard’s property, a court was told.

Despite the legal victory, Richard’s property remains at risk, and the ongoing struggle with Japanese Knotweed could carry on for years. 

The infestation, which is believed to have spread from a railway line behind the house, was first noticed by Richard in 2016 as it started encroaching on his garden

The infestation turned into a nightmare scenario as the plant grew over 20 feet by 2020, taking over his home in Hopkinstown

TfW, the railway board responsible for the land where the infestation originated, failed to adequately treat the growth which led to the eventual intrusion onto Richard’s property

‘It started off so small that I didn’t think anything of it,’ said Richard. ‘Then it just grew from nowhere to a point where it was almost coming inside the property.

‘You hear stories about this stuff completely taking over homes and I was terrified that might happen to mine.

‘It has massively devalued the house in my opinion because nobody wants to move into a property that has a Japanese knotweed infestation. It’s like living with a monster that always comes back.’

The judge granted damages to be paid by TfW and the pensioner expressed gratitude toward Angelus Law for their legal support, emphasizing that the outcome might not have been possible without the firm.

Richard, who currently lives in Trehafod, Rhondda Valley while his son rents the troubled Hopkinstown property, acknowledged the ongoing challenge of dealing with the infestation, which he referred to as a ‘never-ending monster.’

He also expressed concerns about the plant’s potential to resurge despite his efforts and financial investments in treatments that will cost him around £800 each.

Richard Pember, 74, purchased the property in Pontypridd, South Wales, 11 years ago, but it has since been taken over by Japanese Knotweed

‘Transport for Wales knew about the Japanese Knotweed for a long time, and they should have carried on treating it, but now it is taking over the entire area,’ added Richard.

‘When it began coming closer to the house, I was worried because I thought it was definitely coming inside. My son has since had the garden renovated, but it has already started coming back and it might not go away for years.

‘The Japanese Knotweed has left destruction in its path to the point where a graveyard local to the property is completely covered in it. You can’t even see the gravestones anymore which is really sad.’

Richard said: ‘My message to others who might have a similar Japanese Knotweed infestation is, get it sorted quickly otherwise you’ll pay the price. 

‘Also, if you’re about to buy a house, make sure it’s not there to begin with.’

Despite the legal victory, Richard’s property remains at risk, and the ongoing struggle with Japanese Knotweed could carry on for years

A spokesperson for Transport for Wales told MailOnline: ‘TfW is naturally disappointed with this court result given the facts as presented to the court. 

‘TfW has categorically not failed in treating the Japanese knotweed on its land and has a thorough and effective treatment programme in place across the whole of the Core Valley Lines network where this property neighbours.

‘In this instance the court found for the claimant on the tenuous basis of a single missing documentary record. Neither TfW nor Network Rail (from whom Transport for Wales purchased the Core Valley Lines on 28 March 2020) accept that a treatment itself was missed. An appeal was considered but on this occasion was not pursued.’

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