High Hedges Legislation 16 March 2012
High hedges legislation to become law
Alex Attwood has said that new legislation designed to resolve disputes over
high hedges, will become law on 31 March.
The Northern Ireland High Hedges Act is designed to help people who are adversely affected by high hedges bordering their domestic property. The Act deals specifically with evergreen and semi–evergreen hedges that are more than 2–metres in height acting as a barrier to light to a neighbouring domestic property.
Commenting on the legislation today, the Minister said: “This is an important piece of legislation which I hope will go a long way towards reducing the number of disputes over high hedges.
“District councils will have an important role in administering and enforcing the legislation. They will investigate complaints and will have the power to issue remedial notices requiring hedge owners to take action to reduce the height of a hedge found to be causing a problem.
“However, before bringing a complaint, complainants will be expected to have discussed the issue with their neighbour in an effort to resolve the dispute.
“I hope that the very existence of the Act and its financial implications will be an added incentive for neighbours to reach agreement.”
Failure to comply with the terms of a notice served by the Council will be an offence. The penalty for non–compliance with a remedial notice will be a fine of up to £1,000. There is also provision for a further fine for continued non–compliance.
Concluding Minister Attwood added: “I want to ensure that long–suffering complainants will not be out–of–pocket. The Department has also brought forward legislation to transfer to the ‘hedge owner’ the obligation to pay for the investigation.
“I am pleased that the necessary fee legislation is now in place and complainants will not be expected to pay more than £360 to have a hedge complaint investigated. Councils can now deal with high hedge complaints and we will see an end to the blight of high hedge problems.”