What are high hedges?
The term 'high hedges' is defined by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003: Part 8. This is a summary of what constitutes a high hedge under the law:
- The hedge is more than 2m (approx 6½ft) tall (measured from ground level)
- A hedge is defined as a line of two or more trees or shrubs
- The hedge is formed wholly or predominantly of evergreens (these don't lose their leaves in winter) or semi-evergreen ones (that retain some live green foliage throughout the year)
- Beech and hornbeam hedges are excluded.
- It does not include climbing plants, such as ivy, or bamboo - which is classed as a grass
- Where a hedge is predominantly evergreen, the deciduous trees and shrubs within the hedge may be included in the work specified. However, specific trees can be excluded or require different work.
Making a complaint to the Council
- The first step is to approach your neighbours and try and settle the matter amicably. Keep a copy of any letters to demonstrate you have tried. See the leaflet Over the garden hedge for further advice. We cannot deal with your complaint unless the matter has been brought to the attention of the hedge owner
- If this does not work, you can contact a mediation service to try to resolve the matter. Mediation Bucks provides a free service to residents living in the district.
- Approaching us should be a last resort.
- You cannot complain about root activity, for example, causing subsidence or blocking of drains.
- If the above steps are unsuccessful and the hedge meets the definition of a high hedge, a complaint can be made by completing a High hedges: complaining to the council. . There is a fee of £450 to make a complaint. For further information see the leaflet
- We will investigate and consider both sides' cases and make a decision.
- We will reject the complaint or issue a notice for the work - including the period in which to cut the hedge back and by how much.
- There is a chance to appeal the decision.
Overgrown Hedges / Maintaining hedges
The majority of hedges that front public highways are the responsibility of the owner who could be a private householder eg in a residential area, a farmer in rural areas or a company. We are rarely the owner unless we own the land to which the hedge forms a boundary.
Overgrown hedges can cause many problems for highway users ranging from obscuring visibility at junctions to inconvenience to pedestrians walking along footways and footpaths.
Bucks County Council's role is to ensure that landowners or occupiers responsible for overgrown hedges maintain them to avoid such problems. Normally, a politely worded letter or a telephone call to the landowner is sufficient and often achieves the desired action. However, in some cases it may be necessary to serve a Hedge Cutting Notice under the Highways Act 1980.
In many cases owners are unaware of their responsibilities for maintaining hedges so Parish Councils are encouraged to communicate them locally where hedge maintenance may be causing problems