Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has welcomed the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013, which came into effect on Tuesday of this week. Ms McTaggart successfully made an amendment to the Bill at the Stage 3 debate in the Scottish Parliament.
The High Hedges bill aims to address the source of what can often be a major cause of anti-social behaviour in communities and intends to provide individuals with a course of action to address the problem of overhanging or intrusive hedges of a neighbouring property.
Ms McTaggart’s amendment was seeking to expand the definition of what is considered to be a ‘high hedge’ so that the bill will not be unnecessarily restrictive in its approach and will be able to offer remedies to those who are suffering from high hedge disputes, irrespective of the type of hedge or nuisance vegetation concerned.
From April 1st, where neighbours are unable to resolve the issue of a high hedge, the new legislation gives homeowners and occupiers a right to apply to their local authority for a high hedge notice. The local authority will then act as an independent and impartial adjudicator, considering the position of each party, before making a decision.
Ms McTaggart said “I’m pleased that this Bill has finally become law as it was ridiculous that Scotland was the only country in the UK not to have legislation on this issue. I was pleased to be able to make an amendment to the Bill as its scope and effectiveness needed to be increased.
My amendment has enabled the inclusion of deciduous species by default as it excludes no species of shrub, tree or hedge from the bill. This means that homeowners suffering from high hedge disputes are more likely to be successful in achieving a resolution to neighbour disputes and will not be restricted from achieving such an outcome as a result of a subtle technicality.
I am sure that this Bill will prove to be a positive move in helping to resolve potentially troublesome situations and I will be closely monitoring its effectiveness in the coming months.”