The High Hedges (Scotland) Act aims to resolve problems between neighbours over garden
hedges that are over 2 metres in height and block out light.
The fee for an application for a high hedge notice is £401.
For more information, or to get advice, please contact us on:
Frequently asked questions
- What is a ‘high hedge’?
- Will the law apply to all trees?
- Does it matter what type of tree makes up the hedge?
- Is there anything I have to do before I complain to you?
- What do I do if I cannot reach an agreement with my neighbour?
- What happens after I make a complaint?
- You have said the hedge is not a high hedge. Can I appeal against this decision?
- If you decide that the hedge is a high hedge, what happens next?
- The hedge is on my land and you have told me it needs to be cut back. Can I appeal against this decision?
- I live in a property which suffers from a lack of light due to a high hedge, but the hedge is not on land immediately adjoining my property. Can I still make a complaint?
- Does the Act cover issues such as problems caused by pine needles blocking drains, leaf fall and root damage?
What is a ‘high hedge’?
A high hedge:
- 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
- Forms a barrier to light
The Act uses the Oxford English Dictionary definition of a hedge - "A row of bushes or low trees (for example, hawthorn or privet) planted closely to form a boundary between pieces of land or at the sides of a road".
A hedge will not be considered 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 roots of a high hedge will not be considered.
Will the law apply to all trees?
No, single trees will not be covered. The investigating tree officer will decide whether trees planted closely together form a hedge or not.
Does it matter what type of tree makes up the hedge?
No, all types of hedge will be covered by the law. The hedge must be over 2 metres tall before it can begin to be considered a high hedge. Not all hedges over 2 metres will automatically be a ‘high hedge’. A hedge will only become a ‘high hedge’ if a complaint is made and we agree with it.
Is there anything I have to do before I complain to you?
Before making a complaint, you must be able to show us that you have tried to reach a solution with the hedge owner, possibly by mediation.
What do I do if I cannot reach an agreement with my neighbour?
If you’ve been unable to reach an agreement over the hedge, at that point you will be able to make a complaint to us
We will charge a fee of £401 to cover the cost of investigating the complaint. Please contact us on 01324 504748 for more information.
What happens after I make a complaint?
We will let the hedge owner know that a complaint has been made. We will visit the property to assess the hedge and its impact on the light levels of the complainant’s property. Both parties will be told of our decision.
You have said the hedge is not a high hedge. Can I appeal against this decision?
If you disagree with the decision of the Council, you will have the right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers through the Directorate of Planning & Environmental Appeals (DPEA).
However, the DPEA has determined that they do not have the jurisdiction to consider an appeal where the Council has determined that the subject of the application does not fall within the definition of a ‘high hedge’. You may wish to carefully consider this before submitting an application in the first place.
If you decide that the hedge is a high hedge, what happens next?
We will tell both parties what our decision is. If we tell the hedge owner to take action, they will be given a deadline to carry this action out. If they do not take the action by the deadline, we will arrange for the work to be carried out and will charge the hedge owner for any work carried out.
The hedge is on my land and you have told me it needs to be cut back. Can I appeal against this decision?
Yes, both sides have the same right of appeal to Scottish Ministers.
Both parties can only appeal to Scottish Ministers once.
I live in a property which suffers from a lack of light due to a high hedge, but the hedge is not on land immediately adjoining my property. Can I still make a complaint?
Yes. The hedge does not have to be on land immediately neighbouring your property. It just needs to be a significant barrier to light.
Does the Act cover issues such as problems caused by pine needles blocking drains, leaf fall and root damage?
No. If plant life is causing damage to a property, you should use existing civil methods to address these issues. This Act deals only with the problem of a hedge creating a barrier to light.