The Law seems to be entirely biased in favour of those who wish to grow high conifer hedges, and other high hedges in crowded urban areas and to offer no protection to those they disadvantage. All the power is in the hands of those who grow high hedges.
People can grow rows of fast growing conifers, such as Leyland Cypress or Lawson's Cypress, to any height, as close to other people's houses, even over their roofs, without being required to take any responsibility for their maintenance.
Even though neighbours are allowed to cut overhang, the continual expense of this maintenance falls on the person who derives no benefit from the trees, not the person who wants them.
Untopped fast growing hedges can be grown, and left untopped and unmaintained, so that the burden of continual, often hazardous maintenance falls on a person, not wanting this hedge, and by law prevented from reducing its height.
These tree and shrub hedges frequently;-
Small gardens can be completely dominated by the high neglected hedge at the bottom of someone else's large garden. This can prevent them from growing the plants they wish to grow.
In order for the Law to be fair to both parties surely it should require the party who owns, and wants the hedge to keep it to a certain height, taking into consideration the distance from another person's house.
Lines of high conifers, and to a lesser extent high shrub hedges, are being used as offensive weapons in urban areas.
Amazingly there are still a few people in Britain who dismiss nuisance hedges as a trivial issue and are not aware that they are causing suffering to thousands and thousands of inoffensive people. The present Law seems to be entirely biased in favour of those who wish to grow leylandii, and other high hedges in crowded urban areas and to offer no protection to those they disadvantage. It puts all the power in the hands of those who grow high hedges.
People can grow rows of fast growing conifers, to any height, as close to other people's houses as they wish, even over their roofs, without being required to take any responsibility for their maintenance.
Even though neighbours are allowed to cut overhanging branches, the continual expense of this maintenance falls on the person who derives no benefit from the trees, not the person who wants them. Untopped fast growing hedges can be grown, and left untopped and unmaintained, so that the burden of continual, often hazardous maintenance falls on a person, not wanting this hedge, and by law prevented from reducing its height.
The task of cutting back a high leylandii hedge to a garden boundary is daunting. These trees grow between three and four feet a year and many problem hedges are now up to sixty feet. A large proportion of victims are old and cannot be expected to perform athletic feats of tree cutting, and certainly cannot afford professional help.
These problem hedges frequently;-
The high neglected hedge at the bottom of someone else's large garden can completely dominate a small adjoining garden and the owner can be prevented from growing the plants he wishes to grow, or from enjoying the sunshine.
As they increase in size these hedges play an ever more and more dominant role in the victims thoughts. They can cause extreme anxiety. The victim knows he must not touch a twig, on the other side of the boundary or he could be arrested for criminal damage or at best involved in a civil action. Civil actions on these hedges can drag on for years, blighting a victimÕs life and sometimes threatening his life savings and even his home. The legal costs involved can be enormous. It is not unknown for a malicious hedge grower to make a false case that his neighbour has damaged his hedge. The present unfair Law allows this kind of situation.
Lines of high conifers, and to a lesser extent high deciduous hedges, are being used as offensive weapons in every part of this country. by bullies who have eagerly seized on the fast growing conifer and are using it as a cheap and most effective method of wielding power over helpless neighbours. There is an extremely high proportion of old people, living on their own who seek help from Hedgeline. hedge bullies certainly seek out the weak and the particularly defenceless as targets for their aggression. But it is not just the old and timid who are victimised. The present unfair Law puts everyone in a weak position. A high hedge victim has to ask favours, in a sense has to plead with the hedge grower. This, he has to do at frequent intervals. How he dreads having to call round to demean himself, yet again, by asking for a foot to be taken off! He has no alternative, because he has no right to determine the height of the hedge and the situation is one which often escalates into a neighbour squabble or worse: the one party secure in his strength and the other powerless and resentful.
It has often been said that to dictate to people about how they grow plants in their own gardens would be too prescriptive, but the only alternative is to continue to allow selfish bullies to control the lives of their neighbours. Is this not too prescriptive?
Problems with overgrown hedges are not new, but the advent of the Leyland Cypress has made these problems far more widespread. This is a new tree, an unlikely hybrid between two distantly related North American cypress species. It was first bred, towards the end of the last century near Welshpool.. It is phenomenal in its growth rate and nobody yet knows how high it will eventually grow. There is one in Kent now over 150 feet high and still growing well. It is also easy to propagate and therefore can be sold cheaply in staggering numbers. Hordes of unwitting shoppers are buying these plants unaware of the problems they are laying up for themselves in five or ten years. The 'Government's Voluntary Code of Practice for Retailers of Hedging Plants', may go some way towards alleviating this particular problem, but will not stop all those who know exactly what they are doing when they plant these trees, that is the control freaks and the bullies. France has had a hedge Control Law since the 1880s, Germany has recently put a complete ban on the sale of Leyland Cypress and imposed limitations on the height of hedges, because of the unacceptable number of Court cases arising from them. Other European Countries have controls in place, the Dutch, for example, have channels for dealing with problem hedges in place at local level. Monster-nuisance-hedge-growers in this country should no longer be allowed. to think that they can inflict such a degree of misery, with complete impunity because it is their unchallengeable right to do so.
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ARCHIVE INDEX - Records Prior to Legislation
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Copyright Clare Hinchliffe, Hedgeline.