Background and Evidence
The High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 2 May 2013 and the Local Government and Communities Committee has agreed to undertake post-legislative scrutiny of the Act to determine how it is working.
The aim of the Act is to provide a solution to the problem of high hedges which interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of domestic property and gives the relevant local authority powers to settle disputes between neighbours related to high hedges. Where a hedge has been defined as a high hedge under the Act, an owner or occupier of a domestic property may apply to the relevant local authority for a high hedge notice.
If the local authority, having taken all views into account, finds that the hedge is having an adverse effect, it could issue a high hedge notice requiring the hedge owner to take action to remedy the problem and prevent it recurring. Failure to comply with such a notice would allow the authority to go in and do the work itself, recovering the costs from the hedge owner. There is a right of appeal to the Scottish Ministers against decisions of an authority and any high hedge notice issued by it.
The Act places a duty on the Parliament to make arrangements for a committee or sub-committee of the Parliament to report to the Parliament on the operation of the Act during the review period. That review period begins when section 2 (relating to applications for high hedge notices) comes into force and ends 5 years after that date, or on such earlier date as either the committee or sub-committee may determine. Section 2 came into force on 1 April 2014.
Call for Views
The Local Government and Communities Committee has today (Monday 6 February 2017) launched a call for written evidence from all interested parties as part of its consideration of its post-legislative scrutiny of the Act.
Organisations and individuals are invited to submit written evidence to the Committee setting out their views on how the Act is working. Those submitting evidence should feel free to address any, or all, of the questions contained in the Committee's call for views.
To allow the Committee to take account of any views received, submissions should be sent no later than Monday 20 March 2017. For further details on the Committee's call for written evidence, please see the link below.
Read the call for evidence.
Read the written submissions received.
Summary of Written Submissions
A summary of written submissions received by the Committee can be found at the following link:
On 19 April 2017, the Committee took evidence from the following individuals who had responded to its call for views:
- Pat MacLaren, and Pamala McDougall, Scothedge;
- Roger and Catharine Niven;
- John Bolbot;
- Liz Grant;
- Dr Donald Brown;
- Donald Shearer.
Link to papers for meeting on 19 April 2017
Official Report of meeting on 19 April 2017
On 10 May 2017, the Committee took evidence from the following:
- Kevin Wright, Environmental Planner, Aberdeen City Council;
- Alastair Hamilton, Service Manager, Fife Council;
- Paul Kettles, Planning Enforcement Officer (North), Perth and Kinross Council.
Link to papers for meeting on 10 May 2017
Official Report of meeting on 10 May 2017
On 17 May 2017, the Committee took evidence from the following:
- Mark McDonald, Member in Charge of the High Hedges (Scotland) Bill.
Link to papers for meeting on 17 May 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 17 May 2017
On 24 May 2017, the Committee took evidence from the following:
- Kevin Stewart, Minister for Local Government and Housing, Paul Cackette, Chief Reporter, and Julie Robertson, Policy Officer, Scottish Government.
Link to papers for meeting on 24 May 2017
Link to Official Report of meeting on 24 May 2017
Following the meeting on 24 May 2017, the Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee:
The Minister for Local Government and Housing wrote to the Committee on 14 July 2017 with further information on high hedges statistics collected by local authorities:
The Committee's report was published on Sunday 10 September 2017:
The Scottish Government responded to the Committee's report on Friday 27 October 2017:
- 6 February 2017: launch of call for views
- 20 March 2017: closure of call for views
- 19 April 2017: evidence session with individuals who had responded to the call for views
- 10 May 2017: evidence session with local authorities
- 17 May 2017: evidence session with Mark McDonald MSP, the member who introduced the Bill
- 24 May 2017: evidence session with the Minister for Local Government and Housing