If someone has a problem with the height of a neighbour's hedge, they can apply to their local planning authority for a high hedge notice. This is part of the High Hedges Act.
Applying for a high hedge notice is a last resort. You should take all the steps you can to fix the issue with your neighbour before applying. The council will ask for proof of this, but you can contact them to check what steps you need to take before applying.
For a hedge to count as a high hedge it must:
- be a row of two or more trees or shrubs
- be over 2 metres high
- block light
The High Hedges Act doesn't cover:
- single trees or trees that don't form a hedge
- over-hanging branches and roots
- hedges with gaps that let through a reasonable amount of light
Once the council has enough proof you've tried to fix the issue, and you have met the basic criteria of a high hedge, they will start the application process.
If it's a single tree, or it's obvious it isn't a hedge, the council will let you know before the application process starts.
If this isn't the case, the council may not confirm whether or not it's a high hedge until they've started the application process and carried out a site visit.
You will have to pay a fee when making the application. Under certain circumstances you can get a reduced fee or not have to pay the fee at all. Check your council website to see if this applies to you.
When you send the council a high hedge notice application they will send you a letter of acknowledgement. This letter will provide contact details for the official dealing with the case.
The council will also write to the owner of the hedge to tell them there is an application for a high hedge notice against it. An investigating officer will then visit the property and assess the hedge.
They will assess things such as:
- the amount of light lost to neighbours
- the hedge owner's right to privacy
- the effect of the hedge on the look of the area
Once the case has been assessed the council will notify the applicant and the owner of their decision.
If the application is successful the owner of the hedge will have at least 28 days to follow the high hedge notice. If the owner of the hedge doesn't follow the notice the council can carry out the work themselves. If they do so they must give 14 days' notice.
The applicant or the owner can appeal the council's decision to Scottish ministers.
Appeals must be made within 28 days of the council's decision, an appeal made after the 28 days can't be considered.