News In Focus
High Hedges Bill makes its debut
4 October 2012
The much discussed problem of high hedges interfering with neighbours' enjoyment of their property has finally resulted in a bill being introduced to the Scottish Parliament.
Promoted by Mark McDonald, SNP member for north east Scotland, the proposal for the bill attracted enough support for it to begin its parliamentary journey, 10 years after legislation was first proposed by another member.
The bill will apply to evergreen or semi-evergreen hedges over two metres in height that form a barrier to light. Anyone claiming to be adversely affected by the hedge can apply to the local authority (if steps short of doing so have failed) for a notice, and if the authority decides that their property has been adversely affected by the hedge, it may order action to be taken by the owner. A "high hedge notice" so issued is binding on any subsequent owner of the property.
Either party can appeal a local authority decision to the Scottish ministers, who may appoint a person to determine the appeal.
If a notice is not complied with, the authority will have power to enter on the land, carry out the works and recover the cost from the owner.
The campaign group Scothedge has over 200 member households claiming to be affected by neighbours' high hedges. Mr McDonald said his bill was intended to replicate provisions already in force in England & Wales.
He adds in his policy memorandum: "The experience of the legislation in England & Wales shows that simply creating a formal mechanism for resolving disputes encourages the resolution of most cases, without the need for local authority involvement. The low level of formal complaints, set against the number of enquiries, appears to encourage disputes to be resolved. That experience also indicates that the need for enforcement action to be taken will be rare."
Click here to access the bill and related papers.