Resolving disputes over high hedges
You can apply for a high hedge notice if you feel that a neighbour's hedge is affecting light to your property.
There are no restrictions on planting trees or shrubs to form a hedge so problems can easily arise if they are planted in unsuitable locations or aren't maintained.
We act as independent and impartial adjudicators when neighbours are unable to reach an agreement in disputes over a high hedge. We have the power to make and enforce formal decisions on high hedges in these cases.
Identifying high hedges
A hedge can only be considered as a high hedge if it:
- is formed wholly or mainly by a row of two or more trees or shrubs
- rises to a height of more than two metres above ground level
- forms a barrier to light
A hedge is not regarded 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 are not taken into account.
Our investigating officer would make any decision on whether or not a hedge is formed by trees and shrubs planted closely together. Single trees, woodlands or forests are not included.
Unfortunately we are unable to visit sites to carry out inspections or offer advice on whether a hedge is high before you submit a formal application.
Before you apply
Potential applicants must take reasonable steps to resolve a high hedge dispute before making a formal application. An application for a high hedge notice should be a last resort and will be rejected if there is no evidence that attempts have been made to resolve the dispute.
The steps people should take before approaching us will vary from case to case but may include informal discussions between neighbours or some form of mediation involving a third party.
Apply for a notice
You can submit a high hedge application to us if you can demonstrate that you've been unable to reach an agreement over the hedge despite making all reasonable efforts to do so.
A fee of £450 must be paid by the person making the application to cover the costs of our investigation into the matter and any potential appeal afterwards.
Your completed application form should be submitted along with:
- a plan clearly identifying the location and extent of the hedge (preferably to a recognised metric scale such as 1:1250 and / or 1:500)
- photos of the hedge
- any relevant supporting documents (for example, correspondence or other evidence of attempts to resolve the dispute)
- the required application fee
What happens next
We'll notify the hedge owner once an application is accepted and an officer will arrange to visit the property to assess the hedge and its impact on the light levels of the applicant's property. The hedge owner will be given 28 days to submit any relevant representations regarding the application.
Please be aware that we have to notify the owner of the land of your application and provide them with a copy of your details, although sensitive personal information (e.g. phone numbers, email addresses and signatures) will be removed (redacted).
We'll make one of two decisions after considering all the information:
- A notice will be served as it is considered justified to do so.
- The effects of the hedge are not considered to justify the serving a notice.
Both parties will be notified once a decision is made and we will outline the reasons for reaching that decision.
The hedge owner will be given a deadline by which to meet the terms of any High Hedge notice that is served. If the hedge owner fails to take the remedial action in that time then we will arrange for the work to be carried out and we have the power to recover the cost of any work carried out from the hedge owner.
Appeal a decision
Both parties have the right of appeal to Scottish Ministers through the Scottish Government's Planning and Environmental Appeals Division if there is disagreement with our decision.