What is a High Hedge?
The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 provides a legal basis for taking action over a problem high hedge. Antrim Borough Council has a duty to enforce the legislation and will investigate any complaints brought under the Act. A 'high hedge' is a line of two or more evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs or trees more than two metres above ground level, with no significant gaps and therefore forming a barrier to light.
Criteria for Complaints
There are a number of criteria that a hedge needs to meet to come under the High Hedges Act. If you own a hedge, you need to consider the following questions:
• Is it (or the portion that is causing problems) made up of a line of two or more trees or shrubs?
• Is it mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen? (Semi-evergreen means that it retains some live foliage throughout the year).
• Is it more than two metres above ground level?
• Even if there are gaps in the foliage or between trees, is the hedge still capable of obstructing light?
The Act introduces a formal complaints system that is operated by councils, but it should be used as a last resort as neighbours are encouraged to resolve the problem themselves. The Council will not negotiate between neighbours, it will only intervene if a complaint is made and even then, each case will be determined on its own merits. You must provide evidence that you have taken reasonable steps to try and resolve the issue BEFORE a complaint is made to the council.
Complainants will incur a £360 fee from the Council for administering the high hedge complaint. If your complaint is justified, this fee will be refunded and the £360 fee will be charged to the hedge owner upon service of a remedial notice. A remedial notice served on the hedge owner will specify what needs to be done to manage the hedge and the date by which this should be done.
It is an offence not to comply with the terms of a remedial notice. The penalty for not complying with a remedial notice will be a fine of up to £1,000 with the possibility of further fines for continued non-compliance.
The Act does not cover:
• Single trees
• Non-evergreen hedges or trees
• Trees within a forest or woodland ( of a size greater than 0.2 hectares)
• Roots, dangerous trees, or leaves.
• Overhanging branches
The Act does NOT mean that all hedges above 2 metres in height needs to be cut down and permission is NOT needed from the Council to grow or retain a hedge along the boundary of your property.
For further information please contact the Environmental Health Section T. 028 9446 3113; E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
High Hedges Questions and Answers
High Hedges Guidance for Complainants
High Hedges Guidance for Hedge Owners
High Hedges Antrim Borough Council Complaint Form