Couple ordered to hack their hedge back after 16-year row

One man died before he saw justice in the courts - as his neighbour is ordered to trim the hedge

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Tall hedge, endless seamless pattern

A couple from Ladybank in Fife will have to hack back an enormous 43 foot high hedge around their garden. Ian Ledward (70) and his wife Pat Holland had refused to tackle the enormous hedge, leaving their desperate neighbours swamped by foliage for 16 years,

Jim and Sheila Cameron owned the bungalow in the shadow of the hedge. They said it blocked the light from that side of the property - leaving their kitchen and a bedroom in darkness.

The neighbours had argued over the hedge for years, until the Camerons finally had enough and asked the council to step in - under Scotland's High Hedge Act. Fife council ordered that it should be cut back to 12.5 feet.

At the time the Courier reported that the Camerons were hugely disappointed that the hedge would remain so tall, and they took the argument to the government, who ordered that it be cut to 10 feet tall.

Unfortunately Jim died last year, before the agreement was reached. Sheila (71) told the Daily Mail she was just glad it all seemed to be over, as "The whole thing has been very stressful and used a huge amount of energy."

Hedge rows

They are not the first neighbours to fall out over a hedge. The Scottish Government is currently considering the case of neighbours in Ballachulish, an idyllic highland village, after a 48 foot hedge grew to be 34 feet high. The couple who planted the hedge had refused to touch it, as it had merged with a tree that had been a wedding present.

Back in September, we reported on the long-running row between neighbours in Lundin Links in Fife. The court ruled that they would have to cut their hedge back dramatically. However, as an alternative, the owners decided to chop down every other tree - so it no longer qualified as a hedge and therefore fell outside the scope of the high hedge legislation. The council said it would investigate.

And back in 2013, there was a case that ran for even longer - 17 years. A woman in Cannock had planted a row of conifer trees, that eventually not only blocked the light, but also damaged her neighbour's home. The case ended up in the courts, where she was ordered to cut her trees back to 5 feet tall.

Your rights

If you run into difficulties with a neighbour and their hedge, in the first instance it's always worth talking to them about it, because if you can come to an agreement it will be easier and cheaper all round.

If you need to, you can contact the council, as you have the right to be protected against high hedges that act as a barrier to light. This is likely to take a while, and could involve going to court if they don't act on the ruling. However, it's your only option if you cannot reach an agreement over the garden fence.

You may be tempted to take matters into your own hands, but this is not a good idea. If you trim someone else's hedge without permission it can be considered criminal damage.

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