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NUISANCE HEDGES TO GET THE CHOP (ENGLAND)

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The scope for neighbourhood quarrels about overgrown garden hedges ...
The scope for neighbourhood quarrels about overgrown garden hedges

should be cut, following new measures proposed today to give local

councils powers to intervene, environment minister Michael Meacher

announced.

The government is to work up new laws to be introduced in England as

soon as there is space in the parliamentary timetable. Specially

designed to tackle nuisance garden hedges, such as Leylandii, the

legislation would mean that people could ask their local council to

settle their hedge disputes, if they could not resolve matters

amicably.

The move follows public consultation where people were asked to give

their views on possible solutions to these problems. Over 3,000

people responded and were overwhelmingly in favour of giving local

authorities legal powers to order hedge-cutting action. Most people

wanted new laws to set up a complaints procedure run by local

authorities.

The responses to the consultation were:

- 97% of people thought that the government should take action to

sort out high hedge problems

- 94% of people believed that new laws were needed to control

these hedges. This includes 77% of the local authorities that

replied

- A new system to allow local authorities to determine complaints

(option 4 in the consultation paper) was the clear favourite.

72% of respondents chose this option, including 67% of local

authorities. However, most authorities wanted other measures, such

as mediation, to be introduced alongside legislation

Mr Meacher said:

'We recognise that over-grown garden hedges have caused distress to

thousands of people and we take these problems very seriously. Our

consultation has confirmed the overwhelming support for tougher

controls. And that is why we will work up new laws to give local

authorities in England powers to intervene in neighbourhood hedge

disputes. Legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary

time can be found.

'This commitment to legislation is an important step in relieving the

unnecessary suffering caused by nuisance hedges. However, involving

the local authority should be a last resort. If possible, the best

way of settling hedge problems is for neighbours to agree a solution

between themselves.'

NOTES

1. The consultation paper 'High hedges: possible solutions' was

published by the DETR last November. Thousands of complaints are

made about nuisance hedges to local authorities each year. The

paper sought views on four options or combination of options for

dealing with the problem.

These were:

a) promoting existing procedures such as mediation

b) improving advice and strengthening planning conditions

c) through legislation, extending the right to light to include

land as well as buildings

d) introducing new tailor-made legislation

2. At the same time, DETR published a leaflet - 'The right hedge

for you' - giving advice to consumers on how to avoid possible

neighbour problems when planting a new hedge. Both documents are

on the DETR website. The leaflet is also available from:

DETR Free Literature, PO Box 236, Wetherby, LS23 7NB.

3. A short report on the headline results from the consultation will be

available on the DETR at website.

4. This commitment to legislation applies to England only. The

national assembly for Wales will be consulted on whether these new

laws should extend to Wales. It is for the Scottish executive to

consider whether legislation on high hedges should be introduced

in Scotland, in the light of the results of their separate

consultation on this issue.

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