First ‘hedge rage’ case as 65ft trees cause anger

Some hedges are a thing of beauty, others cause disputes and legal action. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Some hedges are a thing of beauty, others cause disputes and legal action. Picture: Ian Rutherford

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A ROW of trees over 65ft high has sparked one of Scotland’s first cases of hedge rage.

Councillors in Moray will meet next week to consider their first ever application for a high hedge notice following the introduction of new legislation last year.

The application, which will go before the authority’s planning and regulatory services committee on Tuesday, has been made in relation to row between two neighbours in Kellas, near Elgin.

The trees are a mixture of sitka spruce, larch, silver birch and beech.

Donald Brown hired a lawyer after claiming the trees owned by his next door neighbour, John Albiston, were having a serious impact on his life. Speaking to The Scotsman prior to the meeting, he said: “We moved to the house about 20 years ago and the trees were fine then, but they grow by about a foot and a half a year.

“Nothing has been done with them over the years and we have lost our view and light coming into the house. Not only that, we have concerns that they are a danger in high winds.

“The trees are very thin and during gales they get blown down. A dozen came down in the high winds a couple of weeks ago. They blocked our driveway. It is an issue about safety and access.”

Mr Brown claimed he had tried reaching an amicable settlement with Mr Albiston without any success. He said he has now spent a four-figure sum in enlisting lawyers to deal with the case, and has applied to the council for an order against his neighbour as a last resort.

A report to the committee states there has been extensive dialogue between the solicitor acting for Mr Brown and the landowner about the trees.

The application argues that the tree belt constitutes a high hedge as defined by the High Hedges (Scotland) Act, a contention which the neighbouring landowner disputes.

Planning officers are recommending that a high hedge notice should be issued, maintaining that the trees form a high hedge as defined by the legislation.

In the report, they say: “Due to the height and position of the hedge and orientation of the affected property, it is considered that the hedge creates an unacceptable and overpowering sense of enclosure, resulting in an adverse impact on the day-to-day enjoyment of the residential property.”

If the notice is approved by councillors, it will require to include specific recommendations in terms of work to be carried out.

“In this case, it is recommended that the hedge should be reduced to the height of 10m and that these works are carried out within six week of the notice taking effect,” says the report.

“In addition the notice should stipulate that the hedge should be maintained on an annual basis to ensure that its height does not exceed 10m.”

The High Hedges Act was introduced as a means of resolving disputes between neighbours and is intended to provide a solution to problems caused by hedges which grow over about 6ft tall and block out light.

It enables home owners and occupiers to apply to a local authority for a high hedge notice, at a cost of £380.

Both the applicant and the hedge owner have the right to appeal any decision to the Scottish Government.

Attempts were made to contact Mr Albiston yesterday but he did not return any calls.

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