By Cara Sulieman
MSPS ARE being urged to take action to prevent HEDGE RAGE from ruining lives.
A new nationwide campaign launched by ScotHedge calls on new laws to be introduced so planning chiefs can put an end to neighbour disputes.
Campaign leader Dr Colin Watson said: “We call it vegetation tyranny.”
“In the most extreme cases it can leave people living in terror from threats of violence and the need to involve the police.”
And the group are calling on “victims” of high hedge disputes to come forward and lend support to their cause.
They think there are thousands of people in Scotland who are suffering because a dispute over a high hedge has caused problems between neighbours – but are too scared to come forward.
At the moment there is no law in Scotland to help resolve any arguments – unlike England in Wales – and the group are hoping that this changes.
Dr Watson said: “In the vast majority of cases these hedge problems are something that can be settled quite amicably between reasonable neighbours over a cup of tea – and that is what usually happens.
“However, if the hedge owner is bloody minded about it, then there is nothing anybody can do, including the courts or the local authority.
“Nowhere to turn”
“We tend to find the people who are suffering are often more vulnerable – widows, retirees, and those with disabilities, whose homes are their sole refuge and main asset.
“However literally anyone can find themselves in this situation with nowhere to turn. There is a legal vacuum which needs to be addressed urgently because this problem is not disappearing, it is getting worse.”
And it isn’t just the view that is spoilt by tall hedges – campaigners say that they can block out TV signals, damage vehicles and reduce the price of neighbouring properties.
As it stands at the moment, residents have no right to legally challenge giant hedges – but a Scottish Government consultation on the issue means there is light at the end of the tunnel for sufferers.
Dr Watson said: “It is ridiculous that you must get approval from your local council to build almost anything more than two metres high, yet thanks to poor legislation you don’t have to have permission to grow a 10 metre hedge that dwarfs your neighbour’s house and progressively destroys their reasonable enjoyment of a home.”
Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing introduced the consultation, which will run until November.
ScotHedge hope that it will lead to effective legislation that will allow councils to put a limit on hedge height.
Dr Watson added: “We need anyone who is afflicted by problem trees and hedges to come forward and make their voices heard by responding to the consultation.”