Scientists in Britain may have finally found the answer to the perennial menace of Japanese knotweed, although it has come too late for one unfortunate pensioner.

The plant, first brought into Britain by Philipp von Siebold in 1850 and once prized by landowners for its stately appearance, has since spread exponentially across the country and is estimated to cost the economy £165 million (about ¥24.9 billion) each year.

Robin Waistell, 70, from Maesteg, Wales, is all too aware of the damage knotweed can do. He has spent more than four years battling rail authorities after finding the knotweed spreading onto his property from a nearby train track had wiped £60,000 (¥9 million)off the value of his home.