Under powers given by Part 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour
Act 2005, the Council is responsible for
dealing with complaints about high hedges within
Richmondshire. This includes that part of the District within
the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
What is a High
A "High Hedge" is defined as a line of 2 or
more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs, which are over 2m
Individual trees or shrubs, groups of trees or woodlands
do not come within the scope of this
The Communities and Local Government booklet "Hedge
Height and Light Loss" is a useful source of information on this
Hedge Height and Light Loss (21kb) - to help people assess
whether an evergreen hedge is blocking too much daylight and
sunlight to neighbouring properties.
The following is a summary of the main points of the legislation
- There is no requirement for all hedges to be cut down to a
height of 2 metres.
- You do not need to have permission to grow a hedge above 2
- When a hedge grows over 2 metres, action is not automatically
taken. A formal complaint has to be made.
- If you make a complaint, it does not follow automatically that
your neighbours will be required to reduce the height of their
hedge. All of the issues have to be weighed up and each
case is considered on its merits.
- The legislation does not cover single or deciduous trees.
- It is not possible to require a hedge to be removed
- The legislation does not guarantee access to uninterrupted
- Damage caused by roots is a civil matter which is not covered
by this Act and cannot be dealt with by the District Council.
- The legislation applies whether the hedge is owned by an
individual or a company.
The Council's Role
The Council can only intervene once you have tried and
exhausted all other avenues for resolving your dispute. The
Over the Garden Hedge
published by the Department for
Communities and Local Government sets out some steps that you
should consider trying.
The Council's role is to act as
an independent and impartial adjudicator in those cases which
people cannot settle for themselves. We cannot, therefore,
negotiate or mediate between you and your neighbour. If you
cannot agree a solution with your neighbour, then you may need
to follow the procedure for making a formal complaint.
You should bear in mind, however, that the Council can reject
a complaint if we think the complainant has not done everything
they reasonably could to negotiate a solution to their hedge
problems. So if you do not follow the advice in the leaflet,
you will need to explain why not.
In adjudicating on any complaint, we must take account of all
relevant factors and must strike a balance between the competing
interests of the complainant and hedge owner, as well as the
interests of the wider community.
If we consider the circumstances justify it, we will issue a
"Remedial Notice" to the hedge owner. This will set out what
works should be carried out to the problem hedge, what preventative
action needs to be taken to ensure that it is maintained at a
reasonable height in future and finally, the penalties they will
incur if they fail to comply with the Notice. The Notice
becomes a charge on the property and legal obligations under such a
notice pass to subsequent owners.
The Notice will set a date (at least 28 days from the date of
the Notice itself) when it will come into operation. It
will also specify a reasonable period within
which the hedge owner must make arrangements for the work to
be carried out. It is generally recommended that hedge
cutting should not take place between March and August, to avoid
disturbing nesting birds which may contravene wildlife protection
legislation. Only after the specified compliance period has
expired may the Council commence proceedings for non-compliance
with the notice.
Failure to carry out the works required by the Notice is
an offence which, on prosecution, could lead to a fine of up to
£1000. The Court may also decide to order the hedge owner to
carry out the required works. Furthermore, it is also an
offence to obstruct an officer of the Council exercising a power
under this Act and if it occurs, this too is punishable by a fine
of up £1000.
If the hedge owner still fails to comply (without reasonable
excuse) a further fine of £50 may be imposed for each day that the
work remains uncompleted. It is also possible for the
Council to make arrangements to get the required work carried
out and then charge the hedge owner for all costs involved.
These costs would be registered as a local land charge and
consequently any prospective purchasers of the property would be
subject to them.
Both the complainant and the hedge owner have the right of
appeal. Any appeal by the hedge owner against a Remedial
Notice must be made in writing and sent to the Planning
Inspectorate within 28 days of the Notice being served.
Similarly, the complainant may appeal to the Inspectorate if the
Council decides not to issue a Remedial Notice or if a Notice is
issued and then subsequently withdrawn. Either party may
appeal to the Inspectorate against a Notice on the grounds that it
either goes too far or not far enough.
Making a Complaint
Before making a complaint it is recommended that you
read the leaflet
High Hedges : Complaining to the Council
published by the
Department for Communities and Local Government. It explains
what complaints we can consider and how we will deal with them.
The leaflet also sets out what we expect you to have done to
try to settle your hedge dispute. If you have not exhausted
all the avenues mentioned, you should consider giving them a try.
If you don't, you will need to explain why not.
Otherwise, we might not proceed with your complaint.
Before making a complaint to the Council you must have tried
and exhausted all other means of resolving the hedge
dispute. You will be asked to provide evidence of this
when making your complaint. To help with this you are
recommended to record verbal or written requests made to the hedge
owner together with their responses.
Your complaint will not be processed if we consider you have
not done everything you reasonably could to settle the matter for
yourself. We can also decline to accept any complaint we
consider to be frivolous or vexatious.
The complaint form constitutes your statement of case as to
why you consider the hedge is adversely affecting the reasonable
enjoyment of your domestic property. It will be an important
document in the Council's consideration of the complaint, as well
as in any subsequent appeal against our decision. In setting
out your grounds of complaint, therefore, you should describe fully
the problems caused by the hedge, their severity and the impact on
you. Please also send us any supporting information that you
want us to take into account. If you are satisfied that your
complaint fulfils the criteria, then you can submit a
complaint. A fee of £135 is payable with the complaint.
The complaint cannot be dealt with unless the correct fee has been
paid. Please return the completed form to the Council and
also send a copy to the owner and occupier of the land where the
hedge is situated.
When we receive your formal complaint, we will run some checks
to make sure that it meets the requirements set out in Part 8 of
the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 and that we can deal with
If we cannot proceed with the complaint, we will tell you why
not. Otherwise, we will acknowledge that we have received it
and explain what happens next. We would also welcome your
views on the process for dealing with complaints and would be
grateful if you could complete a brief survey questionnaire whether
or not you choose to proceed with a formal complaint.