Neighbourhood Tree-Wrangles & Law on High-Hedges

Cernnunos-Imperative (c) ManiNavasothy.2010

Just had a bit of an exchange with our `friendly’ (not) neighbours – you know the ones I have blogged about last year (yeap, the very same people who reached inside my garden and cut off our Willow tree branches!)

Last week, we got a `we are asking you nicely’ note through our door, that complained that our willow leaves are dropping into their garden again (erm, that’s what trees do in autumn!).  Not a great deal, as all over hanging branches have been cutoff by me. Just a few small twigs high above, that dangle on the boundary, and so drop a few leaves off – that’s all.  (If you want to see photos, I have them 🙂

The `friendly’ note ends with complaints about our evergreen trees closer to the house (first complaint about it ever!), and goes on about `right to light’. And then nicely suggests we look at council website, go to Citizens Advice bureau..before they (neighbours) take it to solicitors. A Wolfish  threat in sheep’s skin! (Yes, I already know about the law of tall hedges..  if 2m or over, they `can’ be a concern, and neighbours have to make all sorts of amicable approaches before taking it to the council, and even then trees don;t have to be cut to 2 meters! Talking about solicitors is not an `amicable’ approach!

Last time I had cut a large branch, and was planning to do more trimming, when they asked again. I had said it will be done soon with help of my friends (I am a 4-times shoulder dislocated guy..  I can;t just climb trees and cut them without due care..and we don;t have £300+ to call a tree surgeon!). On that very same day, they had violated our boundaries by reaching in and cutting not just lower branches, but quite high ones. Again, not the actions of an amicable approach.

They may have joy abusing each other with fights, shouting at their kids all the time, or recklessly off-loading their kids in the garden at every opportunity – not just summer holidays but every day. But they do not start ordering me about!

The Englishman’s house may be his castle, but the trees on my land are my kith & kin, and they are subjects of my Kingdom.  No body threatens or hacks them and things they can get away with it.

I will cut, trim ad maintain them – in my own time, in my own esoteric way.

And meanwhile, I’m calling on the Trees to protect themselves- bit like the Hobbits asking TreeBeards (Ents) to help in Lord of the Rings!! (am short enough to be a Hobbit..!).  I am just sick of people (neighbours, drunken hooligans in cities) damaging trees around them!

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here’s some info I found on council website- for others who may fear the Council or threats by your own neighbours. It’s not as scary as you  think. Council will only get involved after much efforts by the complainant.

How can the council help?
Local councils in England and Wales have powers to intervene in certain disputes over high hedges. Complaining to the council about your neighbour’s hedge is a last resort and before you go down this route you must try to resolve the issue with your neighbour amicably. You will have to show evidence of the efforts that you have made to reach an amicable solution, so make sure you keep records of correspondence.

Many councils make a charge for investigating a high hedge complaint. You can find a leaflet entitiled High Hedges: Complaining to the council on the DCLG website.

What sort of hedges are covered?
The legislation is restricted to certain types of hedges. In order for a complaint to be dealt with by the council the hedge must:

  • Be wholly or predominantly evergreen or semi-evergreen. This means it must retain some live foliage throughout the year. Beech hedges, for example, are excluded as although they often retain leaves throughout the winter, these leaves are dead and brown.
  • Consist of a line of two or more trees or shrubs. The legislation does not apply to single trees.
  • Be at least 2m in height. This is measured from natural ground level at the point at which the hedge is growing, usually on the hedge owners land.
  • Form a barrier to light or access.
  • Adversely affect your enjoyment of your property by virtue of its height. Problems related to hedge roots are specifically excluded.
  • What will the council do?
  • After verifying that you have made sufficient effort to resolve the problem amicably with your neighbour and that the hedge does come within the scope of the legislation, the council will set about investigating your complaint.

They will want to obtain statements from both you and your neighbours. They will visit the site to take detailed measurements of the hedge and garden and assess the condition of the hedge.”           [taken from:   Info on Tree Care – High Hedges]

-Mani

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