If your neighbour's evergreen or semi-evergreen hedge is too tall, it may detract from your reasonable enjoyment of your home or garden by acting as a barrier to light.
The problem may be easily settled. Try to solve the issue or reach a compromise with your neighbour before lodging a complaint with the Environmental Health Service Unit.
Under the High Hedge Act (Northern Ireland) 2011, you can complain about your neighbour's evergreen/semi-evergreen hedge to the Environmental Health Service Unit of Castlereagh Borough Council but the Council will not act to mediate or negotiate on your behalf.
The above legislation and guidance came into law on 31 March 2012 but the Council will require written evidence of your attempts to resolve the hedge issue with your neighbour.
To justify your complaint
The hedge must be:
Obstructing light, even if there gaps in the foliage or between the trees/ shrubs
Made up of a line of two or more trees/ shrubs
Mostly evergreen or semi-evergreen
More than two metres in height
The Act does not cover:
Single trees, Non-evergreen hedges
Trees within a forest or woodland (of size greater than 0.2 hectares)
Roots of trees, dangerous trees, leaves, and ivy
You must be:
The owner or occupier (e.g. tenant) of the property affected by the hedge
The property affected by the high hedge must be residential
How to lodge a complaint
If the Council is to take formal action, you have to complete an application form, following the guidance on completing the form and submit a fee of £360.00.
High Hedges Act – Complaint Form
High Hedge Act Guidance Notes on completing the complaint form
If your complaint is upheld, this fee will be refunded to you, following a decision. Please make sure that your supporting evidence is clearly labelled with your name and contact details.
Before completing this application form, please read the guidance contained in High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 Guidance for Complainants.
High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 – Guidance for Complainants
Complaint will not be taken up if you do not fulfill all the criteria in the application form.
Information for hedge owners
Hedges have many benefits, they can provide privacy and wind shelter and encourage wildlife. A hedge can also be an attractive feature. However, very high hedges can cause problems, such as loss of sunlight and daylight to neighbouring gardens. It is important to maintain the hedges on your property at a reasonable height and listen carefully if your neighbour’s have any concerns about the hedge. If required you can contact a reputable tree surgeon (arborist) to ensure the hedge is at a reasonable height.
The Council will investigate all complaints impartially following the legislation and associated guidance. If a formal complaint is received, the Environmental Health Service Unit will write to you to arrange a site inspection.
Further guidance for hedge owners:
High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 – Guidance For Hedge Owners
High Hedges Act – Frequently asked Questions
The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 Q&A Briefing
Further information please contact:
Castlereagh Borough Council
Environmental Health Service Unit
Civic & Administrative Offices
Telephone: 028 9049 4640 Fax: 028 9049 4625 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org