Scotland politics

High hedge bill endorsed by Holyrood committee

Image caption Confrontation between residents on overgrown vegetation has been dubbed "hedge rage".

Plans to tackle disputes over high hedges have been endorsed by a Holyrood committee.

A bill lodged by SNP MSP Mark McDonald should promote "good neighbour" behaviour, according to the local government committee.

MSPs also agreed it would help solve disputes when all other avenues have failed.

The High Hedges (Scotland) Bill defines a high hedge at two metres, formed by a row or two of evergreens.

Scotland does not have specific legislation in this area, but similar laws have been adopted in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the Isle of Man.

The High Hedges Bill was lodged by Mr McDonald at the Scottish Parliament in October, 10 years after action was first suggested by former Labour MSP Scott Barrie.

Campaigners have said that problems with overgrown vegetation can lead to confrontation between residents, which has been dubbed "hedge rage".

Kevin Stewart, convener of the local government committee, said: "Our committee heard first-hand the impact that disputes over high hedges can have in communities and on the lives of ordinary people up and down the country.

"This bill provides an accessible local solution to address these disputes where all other avenues have failed.

"We share the hope of those who gave evidence to our committee, that the mere existence of legislation will promote 'good neighbour' behaviour."

The bill proposes that councils act as mediators to settle disputes between neighbours and, if required, go in to cut back hedges. They would then charge the costs to an owner who failed to take action.

However, wildlife groups have raised concerns that the proposed law may lead to the removal of protected trees.

The bill would need to make it through two more stages of scrutiny at Holyrood, before becoming law.

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