I must admit in the last few months to having had the odd doubt about the relevance of INNSA. The Property Care Association (PCA) pretty much covers everything a trade body should cover and does so with a huge amount of experience to back the service that it provides.

So why would ‘another’ trade body be required?

The initial objective of INNSA was to provide a way for the more experienced operators within the industry to distance themselves from contractors in other sectors who were simply looking at invasive weeds as a potential additional income stream for their existing business. There was a kneejerk reaction to companies with little-to-no experience of the UK’s invasive plant species suddenly offering chemical treatment of Japanese knotweed alongside damp proofing or timber preservation.

It seemed wrong to be getting into bed with companies with minimal environmental, landscaping, grounds maintenance or amenity experience and aligning oneself with other trades that seemed misaligned with invasive plant eradication.

Hence, Invasive Non-Native Specialist Association (INNSA) was established as an alternative concept to the PCA – an association entirely focused on non-native invasive species.

Much of the early steering group meetings centered around provision of insurance-backed warranties and many hours were spent on trying to come up with a product that could match or better that offered by the PCA. Unfortunately, after two separate providers backed out of the insurance market entirely since INNSA first secured an exclusive product in 2013, the insurance industry as-is does not appear to have an appetite to provide such a product and recent discussions have proved fruitless. The product offered by the PCA suits the market and is affordable to both providers and customers and is the established market leader. INNSA cannot compete with the PCA on this level and does not wish to do so.

So I go back to my opening statement: ‘What is the relevance of INNSA?’

I strongly believe that there should be some way of differentiating companies that have years of experience from those that have only recently come into the field.

Companies that have one employee and a Transit van… should not be given works that require large teams of spray operative and significant administrative back up.

Companies that have been trading for six months should not be offering five and ten-year warranties when they have no proven track record of completed projects.

Companies who only know about one plant should not be offering advice on treatment within sensitive habitats.

I do not suggest that there is no place for new companies – obviously all INNSA members were ‘new’ at some point. What we at INNSA are suggesting is that there should be a way of standing out as a quality service provider with a proven record of success.

This is why INNSA will give our members a platform to showcase their qualifications and win specific projects that suit the skill set that is offered.

We aim to show clients with specific requirements that there are companies who are able to bring quality and experience to the table – and we will give them a direct line to the small number of companies who can meet the most exacting requirements.

INNSA aims to show that ‘buying cheap’ is not always the way to get the best value for money.


Mike Clough