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