Issuing and complying with a high hedge notice
Issuing a high hedge notice
When a council issues a high hedge notice, it must provide a copy of the notice to the applicant and every owner and occupier of neighbouring land, setting out the decision and details of what action is required to be taken. The issue of this notice marks the start of the compliance period, during which 'initial action' must be taken. The compliance date must be set at least 28 days after the date when the high hedge notice was first issued to allow the hedge owner to make the necessary arrangements to undertake this action.
28 days is the minimum time period for compliance. The compliance period should reflect upon what can reasonably be achieved, taking into account the extent of work involved and whether specialist equipment or professional help may be required. There may also be other factors to be considered, such as whether the hedge is protecting nesting birds or securing a food supply for a range of local wildlife.
Content of a high hedge notice
There are two parts to a high hedge notice, namely 'initial action' and 'preventative action'. Initial action refers to the one-off works that must be carried out to the hedge within the specified compliance period (set out in the high hedge notice) to alleviate the problems caused by the hedge. The initial action will specify that the hedge must be cut below what height is necessary to remedy its adverse effects.
The preventative action section of the notice specifies what continuing work must be undertaken beyond the initial compliance period to ensure the hedge does not cause further issues in the future. A high hedge notice will remain valid until it is formally withdrawn, although there would be no further need for preventative action if the hedge was removed or the affected property ceased to be used for residential purposes.
Non-compliance with a high hedge notice
If a high hedge notice is not complied with, the council should initially consider sending the hedge owner a reminder letter advising the hedge owner of the consequences of not complying with a high hedge notice. It is possible the owner of the land upon which the hedge is situated was previously unaware of the existence of the notice.
Continued non-compliance means the council may consider intervening by entering the land themselves to carry out the necessary work, however they are required to give 14 days' notice of their intention to do so. The deliberate obstruction of an officer from entering the site to carry out their duties may result in a fine of up to £1,000.