'Local solution' to high hedge problem

Published: 30 Jan 2013 04:000 comments

MEASURES aimed at addressing the misery caused by high hedges have been welcomed by the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Regeneration Committee.

The High Hedges (Scotland) Bill provides a solution to address issues, which affects the enjoyment of property, such as the loss of natural light, which high hedges can cause and which affect many people across the country.

There have been a number of residents in the Cowden-Gelly area who have found themselves facing this problem.

In welcoming the Bill, the Committee noted that some high hedge disputes had arisen as a result of housing developments being situated to close to existing woodland. The Committee has recommended that the Scottish Government should take the opportunity of the on-going review of Scottish Planning Policy to address these issues.

Committee Convener Kevin Stewart MSP said, "Our Committee heard first-hand the impact that disputes over high hedges can have in communities and on the lives of ordinary people up and down the country.

"This Bill provides an accessible local solution to address these disputes where all other avenues have failed. We share the hope of those who gave evidence to our Committee, that the mere existence of legislation will promote 'good neighbour' behaviour".

Other recommendations within the report include:

• A call for clarity regarding the instances where properties are owned by the local authority.

• The possibility of a national tree officer being established to provide advice to local authorities.

• That the Bill be amended to include reference to National Park Authorities as statutory consultees for any high hedge notice applications made within their park area.

• That the Bill include a mechanism for review after a period of not more than 5 years.

For the purposes of the Bill, a high hedge is one which: is formed wholly or mainly by a row of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs; rises to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level; and forms a barrier to light.

The Bill provides that where a hedge has been defined as a high hedge, an owner or occupier of a domestic property may apply to the relevant local authority for a high hedge notice. It provides local authorities with new powers to issue high hedge notices to owners of hedges specifying the work, if any, to be carried out to remedy problems and prevent their re-occurrence; and also to carry out any work where owners fail to do so.

The most well-known species of plant relating to complaints about high hedges is the Leyland cypress, commonly known as "Leylandii". This particular species of plant can grow to heights of over 30 metres at a rate of one metre per year.

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