The Scottish Government has passed legislation enabling householders to apply to the Council in specified circumstances for a high hedge notice.
Resolving disputes over high hedges
Our Council act as independent and impartial adjudicators when neighbours are unable to reach an agreement in disputes over a high hedge. We have the power to make and enforce formal decisions on high hedges in these cases. There is no restriction on planting trees or shrubs to form a hedge and problems can easily arise if they are planted in unsuitable locations or aren't maintained.
Home owners and occupiers of residential properties whose light is affected by a high hedge have a right to apply to our Council for a High Hedge Notice under the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013. The hedge does not need to be on adjoining land but it does need to form a barrier to light.
What is a high hedge?
The definition of a high hedge is a row of two or more trees or shrubs, rising to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level which forms a barrier to light. All types of hedge are included.
A hedge is not regarded as forming a barrier to light if it has gaps which significantly reduce its overall effect as a barrier at heights of more than 2 metres. The roots of a high hedge are not taken into account.
Our Council's investigating officer would make any decision on whether or not a hedge is formed by trees and shrubs planted closely together. Single trees, woodlands or forests are not included.
What should I do before applying for a High Hedge Notice?
Potential applicants must take reasonable steps to resolve a high hedge dispute before making a formal application. An application to our Council for a high hedge notice should be a last resort and will be rejected if there is no evidence that attempts have been made to resolve the dispute.
The steps people should take before approaching our Council will vary from case to case but may include informal discussions between neighbours or some form of mediation involving a third party eg Mediation Scotland or Citizens Advice Scotland.
Even if you have previously made contact you must send a letter to the owner of the hedge at least 28 days before you submit your application. Keep a copy and submit it with your application.
How do I apply for High Hedge Notice?
You can submit a high hedge application to our Council if you can demonstrate that you've been unable to reach an agreement over the hedge despite making all reasonable efforts to do so.
- Download a High Hedge Application form.
- Download a copy of the Guidance Information on high hedge notices.
A fee of £192 must be paid by the person making the application to cover the costs of our Council's investigation into the matter and any potential appeal afterwards.
What happens when I submit a High Hedge Notice application?
The hedge owner is notified once an application is accepted and a Council officer will arrange to visit the property to assess the hedge and its impact on the light levels of the applicant's property. The hedge owner will be given 28 days to submit any relevant representations regarding the application.
Our Council will make one of two decisions after considering all the information
A notice will be served as it is considered justified to do so; or the effects of the hedge are not considered to justify the serving a notice. Both parties will be notified once a decision is made and our Council will outline the reasons for reaching that decision.
The hedge owner will be given a deadline by which to meet the terms of any High Hedge Notice that is served. If the hedge owner fails to take the remedial action in that time then our Council will arrange for the work to be carried out and we have the power to recover the cost of any work carried out from the hedge owner.
What happens if I am not happy with the Council's decision?
Both parties have the right of appeal to Scottish Ministers through the Scottish Government's Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) if there is disagreement with the Council's decision. A fee (yet to be agreed) will be payable.
Some useful links:-
- Revised Guidance to Local Authorities January 2019.
- Guidance issued by the Scottish Government.
- Useful article taken from the Law Society of Scotland.
- The Legislation which was enacted.
- Scottish Government Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals.