The bill enables individuals to take complaints about hedges to their local authority if other efforts to resolve disputes have been unsuccessful. Local authorities will have the power to compel hedge owners to act, or to take action on their behalf, if the hedge is deemed to be a high hedge under the terms set out by the legislation. Both the complainant and hedge owner will have the right of appeal.
The bill is now awaiting Royal Assent and a discussion period with a variety of organisations as guidance is drawn up for local authorities on how the bill will operate. It is anticipated the bill will come into force in the first half of 2014.
Dr McLeod commented:
“Nuisance hedges may sound amusing to many people, but for those who have to suffer the loss of daylight and residential amenity that real nuisance hedges can cause, it is no laughing matter.
“Until now, people who have effectively ended up in a dispute with neighbours over the height of a hedge have effectively had no recourse to any sort of assistance. And it’s important to remember that we’re not talking about untidy gardening but about species which can easily and rapidly grow taller than a bungalow and effectively block out all natural light.
“This legislation will provide an effective means of resolving high hedge disputes. I have to say that my first preference would always be for people to settle disputes in an amicable way without having to get anyone else involved.
“However, my predecessor, Alasdair Morgan’s experience was that not only was the problem more widespread than people might think, it was also almost impossible to resolve.
“I hope that when this legislation comes into force next year, people who have had to suffer from nuisance and loss of amenity for years will see their situations resolved.”