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.
If the council agrees the hedge is too high, it can issue a high hedge notice to the person who owns, rents or occupies the land the hedge is on.
A high hedge is one that is formed mainly by a row of two or more trees or shrubs, is over 2 metres in height and blocks out the light.
You have the right to appeal to the planning authority if they decide:
- to issue a high hedge notice
- not to issue a high hedge notice
- to vary a high hedge notice
- to withdraw a high hedge notice
You can find more information in the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013
And this guide to planning appeals explains the appeal forms and what can be appealed to ministers.
How to appeal
You must appeal within 28 days of the date of issue on the plannning authority's notice, and before the effective date on the notice.
When a valid appeal is received, the notice will be suspended. This means you do not have to do anything until a decision's been made, even where the appeal runs beyond the effective date.
To submit an appeal, complete a High Hedge Appeal form and submit it to Scottish Ministers by either email or post to the address on the form. You should also send a copy to the planning authority that made the decision.
If you need help filling in the form, there are guidance notes to help you.
Your appeal submission must include the following documents:
- the local planning authority's high hedge notice
- all documents, materials and evidence you want to rely on
- any letters or emails between you and the local planning authority
- your appeal, if you're appealing by post
You'll also need to submit any other documents that directly support your appeal, for example your appeal statement.
There's no cost for sending an appeal, but you'll be responsible for your own expenses.
The appeals process
Once you make an appeal, the Scottish Government will choose a reporter to decide it.
A copy of your appeal will be sent to:
- the planning authority that made the decision
- the other neighbour involved (either the owner of the hedge or the person who applied for the notice)
The planning authority and the other person involved in the appeal must give their response within 21 days. You'll then have a further 14 days to comment on any new information submitted by the authority.
The appeals process has a strict timetable with deadlines for each stage. Make sure everything's sent on time. If you send information after the deadline, it'll be sent back to you and may not be considered.
The reporter may need to get more information in order to reach a decision. If they do, they might ask for one or all of the following:
- an inspection of the site
- further written submissions
- a hearing session (a structured meeting)
- an inquiry session (a more formal event similar to a court case)
Inspection of the site
A site inspection allows a reporter to view the site and understand the issues that have been raised.
The reporter decides if a site inspection will be accompanied or unaccompanied. If it's accompanied, the planning authority and person making the appeal will be invited to attend. Anyone else, like those who have made representations about the appeal, will be told about the arrangements and invited to the site inspection.
The reporter cannot discuss the merits of the appeal during the site inspection.
If the reporter chooses an unaccompanied visit, they will inspect the site alone.
If the reporter thinks a decision can be made based on submissions and a site inspection, they will aim to issue a decision within 12 weeks of receiving the appeal.
Further written submissions
If the reporter needs further written submissions they will request it from the person they think will be most suitable to provide it. Other parties to the appeal may be asked to comment on those further written submissions.
If this happens the reporter will aim to issue a decision within 20 weeks of receiving the appeal.
Hearing or public local inquiry
The reporter may decide that the information they need would be best presented at a hearing or inquiry session.
The difference between a hearing session and an inquiry session is:
- a hearing session is a structured discussion led by the reporter
- an inquiry session is more like a court case - witnesses give evidence in front of the reporter
The reporter will decide if a hearing or inquiry session is required. If it is, they will aim to issue the decision on the appeal within 26 weeks (if it's a hearing) or 32 weeks (if it's an inquiry session).
You can submit an expenses claim against a person or organisation if you think they have acted unreasonably and caused you unnecessary expense. This can be in the form of a written statement sent by email or letter.
After getting an expenses claim, the person or organisation who the claim is made against (the 'opposing party') will be given 14 days to provide any comments.
The reporter will decide if they have acted unreasonably and will decide any costs that should be paid to cover these expenses.
The expenses claim is separate to the appeal. If you get awarded expenses this does not necessarily mean your appeal will be successful too.
You can find more information on expenses in this planning circular
If you want to withdraw your appeal
You must contact the Scottish Government if you want to withdraw your appeal.
You can do this any time before the reporter makes a decision.
You must contact the Scottish Government if you want to withdraw your appeal, or put in a request to the reporter to apply a hold on the appeal (known as a 'SIST').
Email the Scottish Government's Division of Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) at DPEA@gov.scot or write to them at:
Planning and Environmental Appeals Division
4 The Courtyard
Callendar Business Park
After taking all the evidence into account, the reporter will either:
- support the authority's original decision
- overturn the authority's decision
- issue a decision (if the authority originally failed to give one)
You'll get a decision notice sent to you once the reporter has made a decision.
This will include the terms of the decision and the reasons for it.
How to challenge a reporter's decision
You cannot appeal the decision because you disagree with it, but you can challenge the decision if you think there was important evidence that the reporter misunderstood or did not take into account.
If you want to challenge a reporter's decision:
- the appeal to the Court of Session must be submitted within 42 days (6 weeks) of the date of the decision
- you may have to cover the legal costs and any expenses should the challenge fail
- anyone with sufficient interest can submit a challenge
If you're unsure about any part of this process, you should get advice from a lawyer
Making a complaint
If you want to make a complaint about an appeal, you can find more information on how to do this in the Planning and Environmental Appeals Division's complaints policy
You can also find out about recent Planning and Environmental Appeals Division related decisions made by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman.