Statutory Instrument 2005 No. 711


The High Hedges (Appeals) (England) Regulations 2005




Part of respecting your community and neighbours means keeping your property in good condition. Neighbour disputes are often caused when this does not happen. For example, many people are concerned about the effect of hedges that are out of control. Although common law rights entitle people to cut overhanging branches back to the property boundary line, they can do nothing about hedge height. The Anti-Social Behaviour Act changes that: local authorities will have powers to deal with complaints about high hedges which are having an adverse effect on a neighbour's enjoyment of his property.


There cannot be many members of the plant kingdom which are vilified to the same extent as the dreaded leylandii. With a growth rate in excess of three feet a year it is, depending upon your point of view, either a quick means of creating privacy or an unwanted bringer of darkness.

We come across neighbour disputes on a regular basis. High hedges are often the cause. Most of us have heard of the neighbour-from-hell scenario of towering hedges immediately adjacent to a neighbour’s windows. It is believed that there may be as many as 17,000 problem hedges in England and Wales. A campaign group called Hedgeline has been formed which has a membership in excess of 3,000. Matters have become so heated in the past that people have even gone to extreme of murder.




Typical nuisance Leylandii - 30ft high



There have been a number of private members bills which have not succeeded in reaching the statute books. The latest bill, the High Hedges Bill, failed to progress prior to last summer’s recess however it looks likely that it will eventually be passed as an act of parliament.


As a measure of the enthusiasm which exists for some form of statutory control it is reported that the consultation exercise elicited 3,000 responses - about ten times the norm. Ninety four percent of respondents were in favour of local authorities being able to settle such disputes.


The aim was to allow the occupiers of residential properties to complain to their local authority about a hedge where that hedge (a) comprises evergreen trees or shrubs (b) is over two metres in height and (c) is an unreasonably restricting light to ones property.


The proposals did not cover individual trees or deciduous hedges (such as the traditional Devon birch hedge) as it was felt that the main problem comes from dense evergreen hedges which people particularly object to in the darker winter months.


The proposals anticipated that the costs of an application will be somewhere in the region of £200. The person complaining must show that he or she has taken all reasonable steps which can be taken to resolve the matter amicably. If the local authority is satisfied that the application is justified it can issue a notice requiring the hedge owner to take certain action by a specified date.


The aim is to strike a balance between the rights of the hedge owner and the rights of the neighbour and to introduce a test which allows house owners to predict the outcome which the local authority will arrive at.




Nuisance hedge neighbour



The fact that there is a high hedge will not in itself lead to an order being made. The local authority would also have to consider factors such as (a) the effect which a reduction in height would have upon the privacy of the hedge owner (b) the effect which a reduction would have on the visual amenity in the area and (c) any legal obligation on the hedge owner in relation to the hedge.


The issue of light obstruction to the main section of the house will be the primary consideration as certain objective tests can be applied. The suggested system of measurements which is currently being tabled does not take into account outbuildings or conservatories.


Examples were given of the formulae which may be applied. The calculation will vary depending upon such matters as whether the hedge is facing the front of a neighbours property and whether it sits squarely or is side on. The simplest example is where the hedge is directly in front of the house. In addition to stipulating minimum distances, the suggestion was that one takes the distance of the hedge from the house, halves it and then adds two metres. If, therefore, the hedge is six metres from the house the height above which action is likely to be taken is five metres. Ground height is also taken into account.


Certain discrepancies were apparent in the proposals (for example a tall hedge could be grown immediately adjacent to a conservatory as the relevant distances would be taken from the main body of the house ). I will not go in to the various formulae for calculating loss of light in this article however suffice it to say that some commentators believe that the approach favours the hedge owner and that the proposals would only protect against the more extreme instances.

It may be, therefore, that the effect of the proposals if they do become law will not be as far reaching as some people had hoped. If the bill comes again before the parliament for consideration it will be interesting to see how the guidelines for determining what is actionable and what is not will develop.



Complaining to the local authority would always be a last resort and neighbours would be expected to have made every effort to resolve the issue amicably. The local authority will be able to charge a fee for this service. If the local authority consider the circumstances justify it, they will issue a formal notice outlining what action should be taken to remedy the problem and to prevent it recurring. Failure to comply with the notice would be an offence. The local authority also has powers to go in and do the work themselves, recovering the costs from the hedge owner.

The Office of the Deputy PrimeMinister (ODPM) launched a public consultation on 29th March 2004 on such matters as the fees that local authorities might charge for this service, how they assess whether a hedge is causing problems and how any appeals against their decision are dealt with. 


In Wales Part 8 of the Act commenced on 31 st December 2004. The Welsh assembly is in consultation on guidance for the powers and states that the draft guidance can be used until final guidance is available in March 2005.


Draft guidance for consultation, England:


High Hedges Consultation: Implementing Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (doc 106k)

High Hedges Consultation: Complaints- Prevention and Cure (doc 302k)


Statuory instruments for Wales (on www.wales-legislation.hmso.gov.uk ) :


The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 (Commencement No. 3) (Wales) Order 2004

The High Hedges (Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2004

The High Hedges (Fees) (Wales) Regulations 2004



Draft guidance for Wales (on www.wales.gov.uk):


Draft Guidance, Part 8 Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 (High Hedges) Wales



Other useful articles


1. What is mediation?




Further Information


.doc fileHighHedgesComplaints_PreventionsAndCure_DraftConsultationODPM028154.doc 
.pdf fileHighHedgesComplaints_PreventionsAndCure_DraftConsultationODPM028154.pdf 
.doc file HighHedgesConsultationImplementingP8ofASBAct_ODPM28153.doc
.pdf file HighHedgesConsultationImplementingP8ofASBAct_ODPM28153.pdf 
.pdf file HighHedges_ComplainingToTheCouncil_ODPM050314_March05.pdf 
.pdf fileHighHedges_OverTheGardenHedge_NegotiatingWithYourNeighboursODPM 




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HEDGELINE Joining Hedgeline and Contact Addresses
Hedgeline's Aims and Origins
Regional Sub-Groups
Current INFORMATION and ADVICE The Present Situation & Some Advice on Possible Action
Information on the Content of the High Hedges Legislation (Feb. 04)
The Campaigns in SCOTLAND & IRELAND Scothedge   |   The N. Ireland Campaign
OTHER Links to other Relevant Sites
Frequently Asked Questions: Key Information
Government & MP Contact Addresses
Some Facts about Hedging Trees
Recommendations on Solicitors
The Hedge Problem Explored   |   A Very Little Light Relief (Humour & Graphics)
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