Hedges and the Law

From June 1st 2005 new laws exist concerning the management of hedges. Compulsory works orders can be made on the owners of tall hedges under the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003.

What hedges are included in this act?
  1. Hedges over 2m high
  2. Where 2 or more trees exist on a boundary
  3. Evergreen or semi evergreen trees or shrubs
  4. Where the height of the hedge creates too much shade to a neighbour
  5. Where the scale of the hedge spoils the quality of life for a neighbour
What should I do to get a neighbours hedge reduced?

In the first instance we advise talking to your neighbour to agree a compromise, rather than utilise legal avenues.

Try to agree a reduction in height and width that maintains a privacy screen, but improves the aesthetic appearance. It is not advised to take out more than 30% of a tree (including Leylandii) to maintain the health of the tree. You may therefore need to consider works over a 2years + period if the trees are very mature, and accept that an instant reduction to 2m is not possible.

The Legal Route

Most councils charge the complainant to make an application, the cost for this is at least £100. This charge cannot be passed onto the owner of the trees forming the hedge, even if the council does order the works.

The council will inspect the hedge and consult the neighbours before making a decision on height reduction. The remedial notice from the council instructs the owner on the works that must be done including future maintenance of the hedge at a lower height. For hedges where trees are of a considerable height, especially old Cypress Leylandii, less than 30% can be removed in any one year. Councils cannot instruct works to take place that will kill a tree(s).

Each case of high hedges must be judged on its own merits by the council.

Appeals against council remedial notices can be made within 28 days of the instruction. The remedial notice is suspended whilst the appeal is considered.

Fines up to £1000 are made for a non compliance with a remedial notice with an additional possible daily fine thereafter.

Eco- Friendly Hedges
Have you considered the option of planting hedges with a view to encouraging wildlife? Too often hedges are planted to provide a speedy privacy screen of evergreen privet, laurel or Leylandii. You could plant a mixed hedge of the evergreens mixed with Beech, Quickthorn, Hawthorn,Buxus,Hornbeam and Laburnam. This more varied habitat encourages a far better mix of wildlife from beetles to bugs.