There is a special resolution process for disputes involving high hedges operated in England and Wales by local authorities. The guidance for using this process emphasises the need for polite discussions in the first place (councils cannot intervene until such discussions have taken place) and encourages the use of community mediation if these initial discussions are not successful.
If it is not possible to reach an amicable arrangement, then you can raise the complaint with your local council. They will make a charge for taking on your case.
The Government Guide entitled “High Hedges Complaints: Prevention and Cure” is available to read on the Government website.
It is a long document but sets out clearly the questions a local authority would need to address in deciding whether a hedge causes a statutory nuisance – and enough of a nuisance to warrant enforcement action.
For instance the following cannot be accepted as grounds for a complaint:
• the effect of the hedge on the persons personality e.g. worry leading to depression and health problems,
• the effect of the hedge on particular activities undertaken by the complainant such as interference with a greenhouse or with an aerial or satellite dish, or
• the complainant’s adverse feelings about the hedge such as fears that the hedge may fall over.
If you cannot reach an amicable agreement with your neighbour, community mediation may be a good option for you. A mediator is an impartial and independent person whose role is to guide you and your neighbour through a productive discussion with the aim of finding common ground and a basis for agreement.
For mediation to start, both neighbours must be willing to take part.
Mediation Bucks is often asked to help with high hedges disputes and, in most cases where both parties are willing to participate, a mediated agreement can be reached without needing to involve the council.
Apart from saving time and cost, the future relationship between neighbours and cooperation on other matters is nearly always improved with mediation whereas it will often become worse when a formal complaint is made to the local authority.