Notes on the Content of the Hedge Law
 


1. If someone cannot settle their hedge dispute amicably, they will be able to take their complaint to their local authority provided that:

  • the hedge in question is comprised wholly or predominantly of a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs;
  • it is over 2 metres high;
  • the hedge acts, to some degree, as a barrier to light or access; and
  • because of its height, it is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of his domestic property (that is their home or garden).

2. The local authority will be able to charge a fee to deal with a complaint. This fee is to be paid by the complainant. In each case, the authority will decide initially, whether the height of the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of his or her property. If so the authority will then consider, what, if any, action should be taken in relation to the hedge in order to remedy the adverse affect and to prevent it recurring.

3. In reaching their decision the authority will take into account all relevant factors, including the views of the hedge owner and the impact of the hedge on the wider amenity of the area. If they decide that action should be taken, they will issue a formal 'remedial notice' outlining what action should be done and by when.

4. Both hedge owners and complainant will have rights of appeal against the authority's decision. Failure to comply with the notice would be an offence liable, on conviction in the magistrates court, to a level 3 fine (up to 1000) with additional fines for further non-compliance and the possibility of the Local Authority cutting the hedge in the final analysis.

5. The action to be taken will be determined with reference to the form of nuisance the hedge is causing. The local authority officer will be given detailed guidance notes on how he is to look at each of the criteria involved in determining a particular complaint. These notes will be provided by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

  • The range of criteria covered by the guidance all concern problems caused by the height of the hedge and are expected to include -
    • both light and sunlight deprivation to homes and to gardens;
    • safe height for regular trimming and maintenance if the hedge is in such a position that it needs to be regularly maintained, because for instance, the overhang is taking up too much of the victim's ground;
    • plant damage when this is clearly caused by the height of the hedge, through deprivation of light or rainfall ;

    Visual amenity
    • Deprivation of a view eg where the hedge closes a garden in where the wider area s predominantly open. (Specific views are not included).
    • the hedge being oppressive or disproportionate to the garden space it dominates.
    • Proportionality to gardens and whether the hedge is so high as to be oppressive will also be factors which can be considered, but will need to be related to the concept of loss of 'loss of amenity'.
      (Untidy or unattractive appearance is unlikely to be considered to have sufficient effect on amenity to be considered in isolation).

  • The local authority officer will be expected to look at the nuisance factors which apply to the particular complaint and other relevant factors, which may relate to the grower's position.
  • Specific hobbies, we much regret, will not be protected by this legislation, which reflects a concept of what would more generally be considered reasonable in a given situation.
  • Root damage, or indeed any effect caused by roots, is beyond the scope of this law and will not be allowed as a direct ground for complaint so dessication of the soil will not be a valid complaint. See below.

7. The grower's claims will be considered in the same way - as to whether they are reasonable in the circumstances. Thus if the grower claims that there is some special reason why he needs more than standard privacy his claims will be, at the least, considered.

8. The local authorities canot order the hedge to be cut below 2m and the latest guidance suggests that this means that they cannot order a height which would risk killing any of the trees.

*8. The onus will be on victims to make a very good case to back up their claims that the hedge is unreasonably detrimental to their enjoyment of their property.

Text of the Act - Part 8 of Anti-social Behaviour Act
 

  Notes on damage or potential damage by tree roots

  Scale of height reductions under the 'High Hedges Law'

  Preliminaries required for using the Hedge Law

  Reclaiming cost of 'cutting back' through the Small Claims Court (The High Hedges Law applies only to predominantly evergreen or semi evergreen hedges. It may still be worth at least looking into the rather limited possibility of usingthe small claims court for other types of hedge)



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This page was written and constructed, and is maintained by Clare.

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