High Hedges

Q. Our property is being increasingly overshadowed by a fast growing Leylandii hedge planted within a neighbour's property. He refuses to do anything about it. What do you suggest?

A. For those householders amongst you faced with the blight of intransigence on the part of a neighbour from behind a high hedge, a solution may at last be in sight. The High Hedges (Scotland) Bill (expected to come into force in 2014) introduces a definition of a"high hedge". This is a hedge (formed wholly or mainly by a row of two or more trees or shrubs) more than two metres high above ground level and forming a barrier to natural light. An aggrieved owner, so long as he can demonstrate having done so in the face of failure to resolve the matter directly with the neighbour, can make an application to the local Planning Authority for a"High Hedge Notice". It also has to be demonstrated that the height of a hedge adversely affects his or her enjoyment of the property in question.

The Planning Authority then follows a procedure involving giving the hedge owner the opportunity of objecting to the application and thereafter will make a decision as to whether or not any action is required. Such matters as Tree Preservation Orders, the amenity of the area and other such matters have to be taken into account. There is a right of appeal against a Planning Authority's decision. In reality, it is hoped that the intransigent neighbour, faced with this new statutory process, will be less reluctant to discuss matters direct and avoid the dispute coming into the public domain.

This article appears in the August edition of Scottish Field.