High hedge legislation
Since 1 June 2005 the Council has been given new powers to deal with nuisance high hedges under Part 8 of the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003.
Residents, however, must have taken reasonable steps to resolve the dispute themselves before making a formal complaint to the Council. Government guidance has stated that a fresh approach to resolve the dispute must have been made since the legislation came in to force.
The role of the Council is not to mediate or negotiate between the complainant and the hedge owner but to adjudicate on whether, in the words of the Act, the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property. In doing so, the Council must take account of all relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the interests of the wider community.
If they consider the circumstances justify it, the Council will issue a formal notice to the hedge owner which will set out what they must do to the hedge to remedy the problem, and when by. Failure to carry out the works required by the Council is an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.
Further information can be found on the Communities and Local Government website:
What the Legislation does not do:
- The legislation does not require all hedges to be cut down to a height of 2 metres
- You do not have to get permission to grow a hedge above 2 metres
- When a hedge grows over 2 metres the Council does not automatically take action, unless a justifiable complaint is made
- If you complain to the Council, it does not follow automatically that they will order your neighbour to reduce the height of their hedge. They have to weigh up all the issues and consider each case on its merits
- The legislation does not cover single or deciduous trees
- The local authority cannot require the hedge to be removed
- The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted light
- There is no provision to serve an Anti-social Behaviour Order (ASBO) in respect of high hedge
Complaining to the council
Involving the council should be a last resort if you really cannot resolve the situation with your neighbour. The council can refuse to intervene if they think you have not done everything you reasonably could to settle your dispute. For information on how to mediate with your neighbour you should refer to the ODPMs advice booklet ‘Over the garden hedge’ (above).
If a solution cannot be agreed, and you have evidence to show the attempts you have made to resolve the problem,then you may make a formal complaint to the Council. The complaint must be made on the grounds that the hedge detracts from the reasonable enjoyment of your home or garden because of its height. There is a fee charged for a complaint of £360 that must be paid when submitting the complaint form. For further information on how to complain to the council you should refer to the ODPMs advice booklet ‘High Hedges: complaining to the Council’ (above).
The Hedgerows Regulations, made under the Environment Act 1995, were introduced in England and Wales in 1997 in order to protect this important feature of the countryside.
The Regulations prevent the removal of most countryside hedgerows without first submitting a hedgerow removal notice to the Council. The regulations also set out criteria that must be used by the Council in determining which hedgerows are important. The Council may order the retention of important hedgerows.
For further information please contact us or refer to the hedgerows information provided by DEFRA.