Commencement of the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013
Subject to certain criteria, people across Highland are now able to apply to the Council for a 'High Hedge Notice' where a hedge on neighbouring property is having an adverse impact on the enjoyment of their home or garden as a result of loss of light.
For the purposes of the Act, a 'high hedge' is classed as being a hedge which is formed wholly or mainly by a row of 2 or more trees or shrubs; rises to a height of more than 2 metres above ground level; and forms a barrier to light. The Council has no power to deal with anything outwith this definition, nor can it take action against single trees.
The Scottish Government is clear that these new high hedge powers are intended to be a last resort for the minority of cases where such disputes cannot be resolved the parties themselves. Parties are, therefore, expected to have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter themselves before involving the Council.
The steps that must be carried out before an application is made are known as 'pre-application requirements'. We have outlined these requirements in our interim High Hedge Notice Pre-Application Advice document, available via our website. If all pre-application requirements are not met, the Act requires the Council to dismiss the application.
A key requirement is that applicants must have given the owner(s) of the hedge at least 14 day's notice of their intention to submit an application for a High Hedge Notice. This provides the hedge owner with one final chance to resolve the issue before the matter is escalated.
Where the Council has received a valid application and determined that the hedge in question does have an adverse effect, it can serve a High Hedge Notice requiring work to be carried out to the hedge to resolve the problem. If the hedge owner fails to comply with the requirements of the notice, the Council can carry out the work on their behalf and recover the cost of doing so. The outstanding costs, if they remain unpaid, can be registered against the property's title.
Each application for a High Hedge Notice carries a fee of £450, which must be paid before an application can be progressed. Applicants can pay this fee using a credit/debit card by calling our Service Centre on 01349 886608 or at their local Service Point.