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Political & Legislative Moves, 2000 - 2001

From November 2000 to June 2001

Disappointing, 'Draft Guidelines' | Failure of 'John Taylor Bill' at Report Stage | Latest Government Statement April 2001 | Laws Already Operate | Dates for Readings of the Bill | Hedge Bill Passed Second Reading | Hedge Bill Published | New Legislation for Scotland | No New Law for N. Ireland | Ballot Winner, John Taylor MP, takes on DETR Bill | Jim Cunningham's Bill | Debate in Lords - Nov 00 |

August 2000 to October 2000

Govt. Proposals for a New Law. | Meeting at the DETR - Sept. 00. | Hedge Nuisance a Cross Party Issue | Reports on D.E.T.R. and Scottish Consultation Papers

Index pages

  • 'Draft 'Guidelines' for the Use of Enforcement Officers are Now Published. May 9th 2001

    The draft 'Guidelines' for use of local government officers in their work of enforcing the new law and deciding on the heights to which the hedges should be reduced, have now been published.

    What the draft 'Guidelines' give is a very minimal amount of protection from loss of light to house windows, and loss of sunlight to gardens. Many people with problems of damage, unmanageable overgrowth, and loss of use and enjoyment of gardens, would receive little help. We had expected light to act as a proxy, to identify, and bring within the scope of the Law, just about all hedges causing the main problems. As it turns out, unless these 'Guidelines' are very much revised and changed, many of the most extreme sufferers from hedge problems will be left to suffer on. A large proportion of the hedges belonging to long-term victims are already lower than the height to which the draft 'Guidelines' would require them to be reduced.

    We are now as worried about these draft 'Guidelines' as we are about the fact that the Law has not yet gone through Parliament. The Government has promised us legislation when there is Parliamentary time available and we are reasonably optimistic that we will get some sort of high-hedge control legislation fairly soon.

    We are extemely worried in case the legislation may be of minimal help to us, after all, but fully appreciate that 'The Guidelines', are still in a draft stage and that they will be revised in the light of testing on Hedgeline hedges, and that, after BRE presents its finished recommendations, the DETR have still to decide whether they are sufficent to give Hedge victims the support they need.

    Publication of the revised Guidelines is expected this Summer (2001)

    The Campaign

    United we stand: divided, we just don't have a view.


    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Report Stage of High Hedges Bill 27th April 2001

    John Taylor's 'High Hedges Bill' ran out of time at its report stage because over one hundred amendments and two new clauses were tabled at the last moment by two members of Parliament, Christopher Chope and Eric Forth. It was apparent to our Parliamentary supporters the day before the Report Stage Reading, that it would be run out of time and many of the Bill's MP supporters, who, despite this, were there in the morning, had left the House by the afternoon. Their Constituency business was too important to allow them to remain in the House all day, when the Bill clearly could not escape running out of time.

    The debate ran for over 5 hours. At one stage Christopher Chope spoke for over two hours on the trot. His endless rambling speeches enlarged on numerous irrelevancies, such as the merits of the metric system, the composition of the new House of Lords, much erroneous information and frequently referred to the Bill's own 'draft Guidelines', without ever acknowledging that these Guidelines were a half developed adjunct of the very Bill under debate. He completely ignored the fact that the Bill, as drafted, is a sensitive and flexible Bill, which has considerable cross-party support, is non-political, and based on a Consultation which drew an unusually large number of responses.

    A glance at Hansard or at a recording of the debate will confirm what happened to the Bill.

    Hansard Report Stage Debate

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Latest Government Statement, April 19th 2001

    Steven Clarke of the DETR has replied on behalf of the DETR, to letters sent on behalf of Hedgeline.

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • We are Not Asking for a New Law Where No Law Already Operates.

    Asking for a new law to protect hedge victims is not asking for a new law to brought in where none already operates. There are already old laws which fully protect the rights of the hedge grower, to the exclusion of the rights of his neighbour and prevent the victim from defending himself, (except in those very rare cases where an estate covenant has been set up by some farsighted developer to make all the hedges party hedges).

    These old Laws were fine when most people lived with space around them and when people depended on the produce of their trees. But situations have changed. Many people live on tiny plots of land, where every inch may be valuable to them. Laws must surely change with changing societies and it is no longer appropriate for one neighbour to be enabled by the Laws, currently in place, to take away the use of a significant proportion of his neighbour's land, nor is it appropriate for only one party at a boundary to have any say on the height of shrubs and trees which affect both properties.

    An overgrowing leylandii or privet hedge, cut once annually, can take away the use over a quarter of a fifteen foot wide garden.

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Hedges in Northern Ireland

    We have it on the very best authority that Northern Ireland does not believe that they have a high hedge problem and so have no plans to legislate.

    Please see The Campaign in Northern Ireland

  • Dates for Readings of the Bill. (23rd March 2001)

    The High Hedges Bill completed its Committee stage on Wednesday 21 March, without any amendments being made to it.

    John Taylor has nominated Friday 27 April as the new date for Report Stage, when it should be the first item of business.

    We will get the April date as the General Election will not be in May, because of the Foot and Mouth epidemic but a June election would give little time for its passage through the Lords. Nevertheless we are reliably assured that with the goodwill of all the parties concerned, it could be done.

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • High Hedge Bill Passed its Second Reading on 9th March

    The Bill, drafted by the Government and introduced by John M.Taylor MP, has passed its second reading.

    We would like to extend our thanks to John Taylor for taking on the Bill and to congratulate him on his success. We would also like to thank Lynne Jones MP and Jim Cunningham MP, who supported the issue today as energetically as they have done over quite a number of years. We would also like to thank the other MPs who so ably supported the Bill in the House and would not like to leave out those MPs, who, we know cancelled prior engagements to be at Westminster today, in case their votes were needed. (Our members, from their constituencies told us). There was, as it turned out, no need to call in extra support as no MP attending the debate voted against the BIll. Highly serious issues apart, the debate, which lasted for over three hours, was interesting throughout.

    Hedgeline thinks that this Legislation could work very well. We have been authoritatively informed that, like nearly all legislation, this Bill includes provisions which allow the public body implementing them (in this case local authorities) some discretion, so that they can take account of the circumstances of the particular case in front of them. The Legislation will, however, be accompanied by Government notes of guidance setting out how they think Authorities should exercise the discretion that they have been given. The matter of how much privacy it would be reasonable for a grower to claim at his neighbour's expense, will, be dealt with in the guidelines, along with details of a similar order. The DETR are to be trusted. They have given full support to the movement to relieve hedge-suffering and they are not about to give us useless legislation.

    Would members please bear in mind that there is, built into the legislation, scope for revisions, if any unforeseen problems arise.

    Please also see the previous entries on the subject, (below), which include links to the DETR Summary of the Bill and to the Bill itself on the Parliamentary website.

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Hedge Bill Published

    The second reading of the Bill

    is scheduled to take place on March 9th 2001. We have now seen the full text of the Bill. It was published on February 27th 2001, and the text is to be seen on the Parliamentary website,

    The DETR have published a summary of the Bill and they have given us permission to put part of this on our site. See -
    DETR Summary of the Current Hedge Bill

    It is as well to bear in mind:-

  • that this Government have stated that they will only accept new legislation which is simple, easy to understand, and proportionate to the problem (i.e. deals with the main areas of the problem).

  • That getting new legislation is a highly political matter. Even if the Government fully support a Bill as they do this Hedge Bill which they have drafted the views of any potential opponents must be taken into account as a Bill can quite easily be stopped on its way through Parliament.

  • The Bill outlines a complaints based system, which covers all evergreen species, the minimum qualifying height is 2 metres, so hedges which are not 'monsters', but which are high enough to cause really considerable nuisance in smaller gardens, are included.

  • The idea of having a single light criterion to judge the height to which problem hedges should be reduced is because:

    The DETR have published a summary of the Bill and they have given us permission to put part of this on our site. See -
    DETR Summary of the Current Hedge Bill.

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • New Legislation in Scotland (1st February 2001)

    The Scots Parliament has announced that it will bring in measures for a complaints system to be administered by Local Authorities, who will be given powers to deal with problem hedges.

    The legislation will be put through when there is Parliamentary time.

    The press release is to be found at:-

    The Scots Campaign

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • DETR Bill to be taken on by Private Members' Ballot Winner, December 2000.

    The DETR have almost finished drafting the Hedge Bill which was promised by the Government in August 2000, as a result of the overwhelming response to their Consultation Paper. There are one or two points in the draft which have not been finally agreed by the Government so the draft is not yet ready for publication.

    The Bill now needs to be passed in Parliament and Mr John Taylor, MP for Solihull, is expected to take it through Parliament as a Private Members' Bill with full Government backing. John Taylor came third in the recent Private Members' Bills Ballot and is therefore in a powerful position to take on this task.

    It is unlikely that the Bill will actually reach the statute books during this Parliamentary session as the election is likely to cut short its progress, so there will have to be a new start, probably with a new private member, in the new Parliament.

    John Taylor

    John Taylor is a Conservative MP for Solihull, in Warwickshire. He is a very experienced politician, having been one of the youngest ever leaders of a Metropolitan County Council, a Euro MP, and a Junior Minister with the last Tory Government. We wish him every success with his high-hedge control Bill.

    Mr Taylor has a very busy programme and while we would wish to give him any help we possibly can, we must respect the fact that he will not wish to be contacted personally except by his own constituents.

    John M. Taylor MP


    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Baroness Gardner's Mini-Debate - 24th Nov 00

    Baroness Gardner has again intoduced our the issue of Nuisance-Hedge Control into the house of Lords and has used this platform to stress the urgent need for speedy implementation of new legislation.

    As Lady Gardner told us that it was an 'unstarred question, one and half hours maximum'. Her Majesty's Government was asked what action they propose to take following their consultation on 'High Hedges: possible solutions'. Our case was again very powerfully put forward and the cause given very useful publicity, as the debate was fully reported on the the various media Parliament programmes.

    The debate on Hansard -

    Contents of this page |Index pages

  • Jim Cunningham's Private Members' Bill

    Jim informs us that his second reading will not take place during this session, (as Parliament will not be sitting on Friday 3rd November), but that it is his personal intention to reintroduce 'his Bill' immediately after the Queen's Speech, quite irrespective of what the Government may be doing.

    Text of This Bill.

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