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High Hedges Legislation Not Being Used Effectively

Legislation designed to resolve disputes between neighbours over high hedges is not being used effectively, according to the Scottish Parliament’s Local Government and Communities Committee. 

The High Hedges (Scotland) Act came into force in 2013 with the aim of resolving neighbourhood rows over giant hedges that interfered with the enjoyment of homes, gardens and local environments.

The Committee has being carrying out a review of the act and believes that overgrown hedges continue to be an issue across Scotland. During evidence sessions, it heard of some extreme cases where neighbours removed every alternate tree in order to avoid the row of trees or shrubs being classed as a high hedge.

“Our Committee heard directly from homeowners across Scotland, and many of them spoke of the serious impact high hedges had on their quality of life,” explained Local Government and Communities Committee Convener, Bob Doris MSP. “Some even said they felt they were forced to live in the shadows because of hedges blocking natural light to their homes. Quite clearly, if someone’s life is made a misery from blocked out light this must be addressed.”

The Committee has put forward recommendations to help the legislation work more effectively, including:

  • The Scottish Government should publish revised guidance setting out that applications should be considered in terms of the impact of the vegetation rather than whether or not the barrier was originally planted as a hedge.
  • The cost of the application should be recoverable from the hedge owner where an application has been successful, such that the local authority can reimburse the applicant.

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