Ensuring that householders can enjoy the use of their homes is extremely important. Good neighbourliness is something that should underpin all of our interactions within our communities so that we can all live peacefully side-by-side. This requires give and take on both sides and unfortunately neighbour disputes will arise on occasion.
The problems that can be caused by high hedges were raised with the Scottish Government a number of years ago and, following consultation and debate, the Scottish Parliament introduced the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 to help address such issues. The Act is a relatively new piece of legislation which is not a panacea for all problems involving vegetation. Like all legislation designed to tackle a specific problem, its scope is limited.
There is evidence that the Act is having a positive impact and I hope that it will continue to provide a solution to many of the long-standing disputes between neighbours in relation to high hedges. I appreciate that there will continue to be circumstances where the legislation cannot be utilised to resolve a dispute over vegetation as the Act simply does not apply.
In these circumstances it is important that neighbours continue to try to resolve their issues amicably, recognising each other's right to enjoyment of their property. Resolving such issues amicably will help to improve people's lives and help to improve the health and wellbeing of our communities. Good neighbour relations are the biggest asset any community can have.
Legislation should always be the last resort and should only be needed in the most extreme of cases, but it is necessary to have effective legislation when such cases arise. This revised guidance was drawn together through discussions with local authorities and interest groups and balances these against the limitations of what can be practically achieved within the limits of the existing legislation. I hope this guidance will help to improve the operation of the Act.
Kevin Stewart MSP
Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning
Email: Eilidh Smith