Frequently Asked Questions

The Scots Campaign, immediately below | The N. Irish Campaign

Insurance and Subsidence | DNA fingerprinting for Tree Roots | The Situation in Europe and other countries

Solicitors | Health Implications of Problem Hedges | Legal definition of a hedge

  Notes on damage or potential damage by tree roots

  Reclaiming cost of 'cutting back' through the Small Claims Court.

Finding MP's Contact Address | Minister Responsible for Nuisance Hedges

  • Scotland

    Our Scottish organisers are organising a separate campaign in Scotland as the Law, which we hope is soon to be passed in Westminster, will apply only to England and Wales.

    We now have a separate website dedicated to the Scots campaign. Scothedge

    Contact details for our Scottish organisers are available on the 'Scothedge' website.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • The Northern Ireland Campaign

    HIGH HEDGES LEGISLATION The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 is now fully operational.

    This means that, providing the hedge in question falls within the criteria outlined in the Act, complaints about problem high hedges can be made to district councils.

    Before a complaint can be made, evidence must be provided of attempts to resolve the problem amicably. The Department recommends that evidence of at least one attempt to resolve the problem should be gathered after 31 March. It is hoped that the operational legislation will be an incentive to reach agreement and avoid the need for a complaint.

    "Go to DOE, High Hedges Guidance and then choose 'Technical Guidance' for advice on how to work out the height your hedge may be reduced to

    Light loss and hedge heights diagram A diagram drawn up for the English version of the Law, applies equally here and should help to give a quick initial idea of the sorts of heights to be expected.

    Please note - There is NO requirement within the law to reduce the height of a hedge below 2 meters or remove it completely!

    Flyer, containing frequently asked questions but you should contact your council for further information after 31 March 2012.

    If you have any queries please contact the High Hedges Bill Team at:

    High Hedge Bill Team
    Department of the Environment
    Goodwood House
    44 - 58 May Street
    Belfast BT1 4NN
    Telephone: (028) 9025 4822.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

    There is one significant difference between the Law in N Ireland and the Law in England and Wales.

    This one significant difference is that in N. Ireland the council will refund the complainants money if their complaint is upheld and a remedial notice has to be issued. If it gets sorted out before a remedial notice is issued, then some councils are keeping 25% of the fee for admin purposes and some are not. The complaint must find this out from the council concerned. This now should be applied to the England and Wales legislation as it is non-sensible that the complaint is out of pocket if the complaint is adjudged to be genuine. Also, a charge is put on the title deeds of the property concerned regarding maintaining the hedge at a particular height so that even if a house is sold, then the new owners will have to maintain the hedge at the adjudged height.

    Free Literature - Over The garden hedge Pamphlet published by Office of Deputy Prime Minister
    Tel: - 0870 1226236 or 020 7944 3083

    You could also contact the Belfast Mediation Network 028 90438614 and ask for advice.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • To Discover Your MP's or, in Wales, your AM's contact addresses
  • MPs email addresses - House of Commons Information ( Westminster MPs only )
  • Welsh Assembly Tel: 029 2082 5111
  • Fax Your MP: (MPs and AMs)

  • It is best to consult the above sites but you could try the formula, 'Surname joined with first letter of Christian name, then '' as in ''. This was the recommended formula for MPs' email addresses.

    Remember, some MPs do not seem to look at their emails.

    Fax Your Mp:
    - was created by a group of unpaid volunteers in November 2000 when they saw the potential the Internet had for helping ordinary members of the public to contact their MP. Send them your letter and they'll fax it to your MP even if you don't know who he or she is. Lobbying your MP is an effective way to get things done. MPs do listen to what their constituents have to say.
    - To use the Web site all you need to do is to type in   The homepage there asks you to enter your postcode. Your MPs details will appear. You then have to enter your name, address, phone number and a valid email address before you can compose your letter.
    - Once you have finished click Preview button, then the Continue button. You will be sent an email (immediately), which confirms your message is genuine, and your email, now in fax form, will be sent.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Insurance and subsidence claims, January 2002

    Insurance, Subsidence Risks and Insurers Warning Letters July 2002

    Another Hedgeline member has recently succeeded in getting his property insurance company to write to his neighbours twice over possible subsidence risks from an overgrown hedge. The insurers gave the neighbour a formal written warning over potential liability for any damage and requested action to reduce the hedge height forthwith. In a second letter some weeks later, the warning was strongly repeated with the additional comment that the neighbour's continued inaction might prejudice his own insurance position should a claim be made against him.

    Any member with a high hedge very close to their house might be advised to write to their insurers giving full details (hedge type, proximity, length and height with photographs if possible) and request a formal warning letter over liability for any damage caused. Members should refer their insurers to the October 2001 House of Lords Judgement (UKHL55) concerning the case of Delaware Mansions Limited and Others V Lord Mayor and Citizens of The City of Westminster (for more details and background on the legal issues cf link below). Issuing formal written warnings over liability can protect the legal interests of hedge victim and insurer should damage occur. Hedge owners receiving such letters may decide that it's time to change their attitudes or risk making themselves personally liable for any damage caused.

    Westminster Council Successfully sued for Root Damage January 2002

    I would like to hear from any member who manages to persuade their insurance company to write a warning letter. We would like to have a list of helpful insurers.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • DNA fingerprinting for trees suspected of causing subsidence. (Added November 02)

    Trees and shrubs are responsible for 60% of subsidence claims. Trees suspected of causing subsidence to buildings can now be identified by DNA fingerprinting of their roots. This is a much more sensitive test than the standard microscopy procedure, but costs three times as much - 150 per case. Even with this advanced form of testing there are still limitations. The test will not discriminate between clones (i.e. vegetatively propogated plants such as leylandii).1

    1 We are indebted for this information to the magazine of the tree Council, 'Treenews , Autumn/Winter 2002'.

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • The situation in Europe and other countries  posted 2003 and will be updated if we hear of any change

    Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and France have all found it necessary to have hedge-nuisance control legislation, and most German states have recently brought in legislation,.

    France may not be applying the law in quite the same spirit as it did in 1881, when it was set up, but it still has the law there to deter most real hedge nuisance and it is enforced when really necessary.
    There are as yet unconfirmed rumours that Spain and Italy are bringing in measures.
    From letters to Embassies and from talking to Dutch and Belgian nationals it has been established that the local authorities administer the relevant laws in these countries, and that these laws are sufficient deterrent and the problem rarely occurs.

    It seems reasonable to suppose that from this that, if laws were passed in this country, enforcements would be necessary at first but the situation would settle down as it has there.

    Other countries

    We have had distress calls froms from USA , Western Canada, Finland, Australia and Southern Ireland. There is a campaigning group in place in Australia and Southern Ireland

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Finding a Solicitor

    We have had a number of requests for lists of the names of solicitors who are good at dealing with the issues which concern us. We are not in a position to provide such a list and as an organisation we would not wish to. Our advice is as follows -

    1. You may be able to make use of the High Hedges Law (Antisocial Behaviour Act, section 8). If your circumstances put you outside its scope, do not use a solicitor or go to mainstream Law unless absolutely essential. (A very costly business in money, time and personal wear and tear, and mainstreamFminister Law is very much on the side of the hedge-grower)
    2. Get all the free advice you can. Look at our info page. Consult your Hedgeline local organiser.
    3. If you must use a solicitor because a Law suit has been launched against you, ask your local Law Society for suggestions.

  • Health Implications of nuisance high hedges

    We were reliably convinced of these effects at the time of posting but if you need medical evidence for any of these effects we are afraid that you will need to search (engine) it out yourself. We did not have much luck in persuading the Government that these were adequate reasons for law change.

      The most common effects on health seem to fall into three main categories.

    • The diverse health implications of prolonged anxiety caused by the uncontrollable growth of these hedges and the feelings of helplessness this engenders.
    • The proven effect of long term shortage of light, leading to serious depressive symptoms in some people.
    • Eczema, asthma , and other allergic diseases, caused or exacerbated by dust-mite. Dust-mites thrive in dark, warm conditions. Sunlight weakens and kills them. High nuisance high hedges are forcing people to live in rooms starved of sunlight.

    There are also other, less-frequent effects

  • 'Lupus' sufferers and some other people are effected by the resin from these trees. 'B & Q' are now putting warnings on their Leyland Cypresses, that they can cause allergic skin reactions.
  • Accidents are caused to people in trying to control the overgrowth from these hedges. It is not within ordinary expectations for the average person to keep pace with and cut back the sort of growth achieved by these Leylandii hedges.

  • Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Legal Definition of a Hedge

    The definition of a hedge for the purposes of the '2003 Hedge Bill' is

      a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen trees or shrubs

    For more detail see Notes on the Content of the High Hedges Legislation

    A legal definition of a hedge was established during Michael Jones' five year Court Case in the 1990s. (Stanton v. Jones B'ham County Court - no 9177276). There was no such definition previously in English Law.

    A number of woody plants , whether capable of growing into trees or not, which are so planted as to be intended to be in line and which, when mature, to be so integrated together as to form a screen or a barrier.

    NB. It is a definition which exists in common law but it is does not form a general precident, since special conditions pertained in the Jones v. Stanton Case. Michael Jones won the case only because of there is a covenant, making all hedges on the Bourneville Estate party hedges.

    Index pages

    Contents of this page | Index pages

  • Ministers

    The present minister responsible for Nuisance hedge legislation is the Rt Hon Bob Neill. He has responsibility for matters within our area of interest. The spelling has been verified.

    If you have a concern and you want it looked at by a minister, ask your local MP to send your letter. Ministers only read letters which are sent by an MP. Other letters to ministers are dealt with by the Civil servants in the "Hedges and Trees" division of the CLG (the Government Department, Communities and Local Government)
    This information was verified in 2013.

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