High hedges have literally and figuratively split communities over the years. A committee of the Scottish Parliament is now asking people to contact it with their views on the Bill put forward that seeks to a solve the problem.
The High Hedges (Scotland) Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament by Mark McDonald MSP on 2 October 2012. The Local Government and Regeneration Committee is now asking people to give their views on how the Bill proposes to tackle the problems of high hedges which interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of domestic property.
Committee Convener Kevin Stewart MSP said:
“There is little doubt that high hedges have the potential to cause tempers to flare. This Bill is trying to put in place arrangements that would help mediate, and support local authorities in solving disputes that can’t be resolved by those involved.
“What our Committee wants to know is whether the proposals in the Bill are likely to work in practice. We want to hear from those with experience in this area so that we can give a considered view to the wider Parliament on whether or not this bill should progress.”
Interested individuals and organisations should write to the Committee with their views on the Bill.
To make a submission see the call for evidence. Responses should be sent, wherever possible, electronically and in MS Word format to the following email address: [email protected]
The closing date for receipt of submissions is 6pm on Thursday 29th November 2012.
The objective of the Bill is to “provide a solution to the problem of high hedges which interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of domestic property.”
The Bill states this is to be achieved by putting in place a mechanism for the resolution of disputes relating to high hedges which provides local authorities with new powers to address these problems. The Bill will enable local authorities to recover the costs of taking action to address a high hedge problem. The Policy Memorandum stated that the aim of the Bill is to ensure that the costs to the public finances of resolving private disputes over high hedges are minimised.
One of the central aspects of the Bill is the establishment of a statutory definition of a high hedge. The Bill defines a high hedge as a hedge which:
- is formed wholly or mainly by a row of 2 or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs,
- rises to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level, and
- forms a barrier to light.
For the purposes of this definition “a hedge is not to be 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 Bill has yet to be formally referred to the Committee for its consideration. However, the Committee was responsible for considering the Member in charge’s statement of reasons for not consulting on the proposal for the Bill and it is therefore likely that the Bill will be referred to the Committee.
Photograph: Local Government and Regeneration Committee convener Kevin Stewart MSP in Westburn Park, Aberdeen.