Ragwort

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An Interactive Guide to Dealing With Ragwort in England

Before you start, remember:

  • At no point should you ever try to enter railway lines or motorway verges to check for ragwort.
  • The landowner’s permission must always be obtained before going onto other land or removing ragwort (or any other plant) from it.
  • It’s advisable to wear protective gloves and a face mask if handling ragwort.
  • This guide relates to Common Ragwort. The Weeds Act (1959) only applies to Common Ragwort. It’s not an offence for ragwort to grow in certain areas, but spread of ragwort onto high-risk land (see below) is an offence. If land you own has ragwort, and it’s either at risk of spreading to high-risk land or your land is occupied by horses, you must act now to remove the ragwort.
  • Take a look at our identification guide to check it's Common Ragwort. Examples of other species are available in Defra's Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort.
Start

1. Are you sure the plant is Common Ragwort?

Ragwort flowers
Young horse in field with ragwort

2. Is the ragwort growing in fields used for grazing horses?

The BHS Welfare Team has a network of Welfare Officers who work in an advisory capacity.

The BHS will aim to resolve the concern by working with the horse owner/keeper or landowner. If you’re concerned about horses grazing in fields with ragwort, contact the team on:

02476 840517 or
welfare@bhs.org.uk.

Please note that Natural England cannot deal with complaints lodged in this situation.

Pony in field with ragwort

3. Is the ragwort growing within 50 metres of land used by horses/livestock OR land used for forage production?

4. Is the ragwort growing within 50-100 metres of land used by horses/livestock OR land used for forage production?

Horses in field with ragwort

The land is classified
as medium risk.

A high risk is posed to animals grazing within 50 metres of where ragwort is growing, but it's more effective if ragwort is controlled up to 100 metres from any eligible land at risk to help prevent its spread.

Discuss the risk with the landowners/occupiers. They should continue to monitor the situation and put controls in place if necessary.

The land is classified
as low risk.

Consider making the landowners/occupiers aware if spread increases. It would be in their interests to take action as part of a contingency plan if necessary.

The land is classified
as high risk!

Immediate action to remove the weed from this area and control its spread must be taken by the landowner.

Ragwort in meadow

4. Is the ragwort growing on privately-owned land?

Defra's Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort has full details of the actions that complainants should take. Refer to points 25 and 26 of the Code.

When a potential problem is identified, the landowner/occupier should be contacted first. If the landowner/occupier fails to take any action to prevent the spread of ragwort or remove it where necessary, Natural England should then be notified.

Download a Weed 2 Complaint form and guidance

Fully completed Weed 2 Complaint forms need to be returned to: Natural England, Customer Services, PO Box 2423, Reading, RG1 6WY

Natural England will take enforcement action under the Weeds Act 1959 where ragwort poses a high risk to horses/livestock or the production of conserved forage.

Ragwort by picnic bench

5. Is the ragwort growing on parish, community or council-owned land?

The relevant parish, town or community council are responsible.

Find your Local Authority’s details at local.direct.gov.uk

Ragwort by road

6. Is the ragwort growing by the side of a national railway/motorway/trunk road?

Railways
Network Rail is responsible.
Contact: 03457 114141
networkrail.co.uk

Motorways / Trunk Roads
The Highways Agency is responsible.
Contact all HA offices using their switchboard:
0300 1235000
highways.gov.uk

But it’s still by a road

It's not by a road

Potential Contacts

Canal and River Trust
canalrivertrust.org.uk

Ministry of Defence Land
Contact the local base directly

Common Land
Contact the local council or private landowner

Forestry Land
(Forest Enterprise)

The Forestry Commission will be responsible
Contact your local office
forestry.gov.uk

Ragwort by private road

8. Is the road privately owned?

Defra’s Code of Practice on How to Prevent the Spread of Ragwort has full details of the actions that complainants should take.
Refer to points 25 and 26 of the Code.

When a potential problem is identified, the landowner/occupier should be contacted first. If the landowner/occupier fails to take any action to prevent the spread of ragwort or remove it where necessary, Natural England should then be notified.

Download a Weed 2 Complaint form and guidance

Fully completed Weed 2 Complaint forms need to be returned to: Natural England, Customer Services, PO Box 2423 Reading, RG1 6WY

Natural England will take enforcement action under the Weeds Act 1959 where ragwort poses a high risk to horses/livestock or the production of conserved forage.

The relevant local Highway Authority is responsible.

Find your local authority’s details at local.direct.gov.uk

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