The size of garden hedges can be the cause of disputes between neighbours. The High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, was introduced with the aim of resolving these disputes. It also gives homeowners or occupiers of domestic properties the right to apply for a High Hedge notice if necessary:
- High Hedge definition
- How to get advice
- Actions to take before applying for a notice
- Application fee
- How to apply
- Processing applications
For trees or shrubs to be considered as a High Hedge, they must first be a hedge. This is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as 'a row of bushes or low trees (such as a hawthorn or privet) planted closely to form a boundary between pieces of land or at the sides of a road'. Both evergreen and semi-evergreen trees and shrubs can also be considered.
The act then defines a High Hedge as 'a row of two or more trees or shrubs rising to a height of two or more metres above ground level, and forms a barrier to light'.
It is not illegal to grow a hedge, leylandii and other vigorous growing plants.
Making an application for a High Hedge notice is a last resort. You should take all reasonable steps to resolve the issue yourself first. If you decide to apply, you will need to demonstrate that you have done this.
You need to bring the issue to your neighbour's attention and discuss it with them. If you are not able to communicate with them, you need to attempt mediation. Contact SACRO to get free mediation services. If this fails, you can apply for a High Hedge notice.
The fee for making an application is £450 and is not refundable. It covers the cost of considering an application and investigating the matter.
You need to pay the appropriate fee when you submit your application otherwise we can't process it.
You can pay in different ways:
- online through the ePlanning portal
- by telephone with a debit or credit card
- by post, by sending a cheque (payable to Aberdeenshire Council) with your application to our correspondence address
You can apply for a High Hedge notice online using the national ePlanning portal. With your application, you need to demonstrate that you have tried to resolve the issue with your neighbour within the previous 3 months and that you have written to them again 2 weeks before.
We act as independent and impartial arbitrator. We seek to strike a balance between the competing rights of neighbours. We take into account the facts and circumstances of each individual case when making our decision.
After receiving your application, we will arrange a site visit to assess whether the hedge is a High Hedge and whether it has a negative impact on the reasonable enjoyment of your property. After considering all the information and evidence, we will notify you and the hedge owner of our decision and the reasons for it.
If we decide to issue the High Hedge notice, it will set out:
- what actions the hedge owner needs to take
- any other actions to stop the issue recurring
- the time period in which the work must be carried out
If the hedge owner doesn't comply with the notice, we can use our power of entry to the land where the hedge is situated to carry out the remedial work and charge them for any expenses.
In case we decide to refuse your application and you don't agree with our decision you have a right to appeal to Scottish Ministers within 28 days.