The first speaker was Board member, Nick Hartley, who gave an introduction into invasive plants, biodiversity and the plants on the Wildlife and Countryside Act schedule 9 species list.
We were delighted that Sean Hathaway, Environment Officer at City and County of Swansea, had made the long journey to join us for the day and he highlighted the challenges of dealing with Japanese Knotweed for local authorities with the limited resources available. He showed pictures of where Japanese Knotweed had been found in Swansea as far back as 1907, although records at Kew Gardens go back to the early 1800s.
Our next guest was Rodger Burnett whose client, Robin Waistall, won a four year fight for compensation by Network Rail. He gave a background to the case, the issues that arose and how they were remedied. Kate Faulkner, PCCB Board member and consumer advocate, was up next with the importance of the Invasives Code and the protection that it provides for property owners, buyers and sellers by setting standards and the insurance and guarantees that are in place for INNSA member companies.
After lunch, where delegates were able to visit the exhibition stands, Board members David Layland and Conor Leyden, spoke more about the history of INNSA, raising standards and best practice and the peace of mind for clients by using fully accredited professionals. This was further emphasised by Chris Oliver, who detailed the work that has gone into producing the new INNSA Code of Practice, to replace the Environment Agency Code of Practice which was withdrawn recently. The Code will be updated inline with changes in legislation so that it is the definitive best practice guide and made publicly available. Barrie Hunt, from Monsanto, then gave an update on the importance of Glyphosate and the need for the industry to have a voice. He urged members to contact their MPs, the Minister and the Secretary of State for DEFRA to highlight what glyphosate means for them in terms of their ability to deliver the level of weed control and service that they deliver today, and highlight the benefits from using the product for themselves and their clients.
The progress of the Amenity Forum was given by John Moverley, the increased involvement in CPD and recognition of Amenity Assured and also the challenges, politics and opportunities of weed, pest and disease management. Graham Ellis then gave a surveyors’ point of view and the importance of awareness of the legal requirement on estate agents to make prospective buyers aware of Japanese Knotweed and for sellers to disclose the presence of knotweed on the TA6 – property information form. We then welcomed Richard Stow from the Lloyds Banking Group, giving the lenders’ perspective, the range of reports they provide and the criteria for lending. Our final speaker of the day was Paul Denny from InsureRisk, who provide the Insurance Backed Guarantee for INNSA members. Paul answered questions from the floor on how the IBG provides cover for the insured, in the event of the original contractor ceasing trading and regrowth occurring during the period of insurance/guarantee.
Mike Ockenden wrapped up the proceedings and discussions continued into the evening with an informal dinner.
Thank you to all our speakers, copies of the presentations can be downloaded below.