It’s all over the front page, you give me hedge rage or hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?
The justice department issued a consultation paper in mid August on the controversial subject of high hedges. The subject has been considered previously by the former Scottish Executive in January 2000, and a proposed members bill was suggested in 2002, 2003, and 2006 by Scott Barrie (when he was not occupied in asking for ministerial views on the success of Dunfermline in the TV revival of "It's a Knockout").
The consultation is a response to a high level of correspondence received by the Scottish Government's Community Safety Unit and it is in that context that the consultation paper is issued.
"We need to see efforts to tackle high hedge problems in the context of developing solutions to violent crime, drug and alcohol abuse, deprivation and the recession and ensure our resources are divided in a way that delivers maximum benefit for all the people of Scotland." (para 2.9)
The consultation proposes four options:
Option 1: Do nothing – no Government action
Option 2: Promote existing remedies such as mediation
Option 3: Strengthen and supplement existing remedies with research, guidance and title conditions
Option 4: Provide a legislative solution by utilising or extending existing provisions or introducing new ones
and notes that Lord McGhie, President of the Lands Tribunal for Scotland, argued for option 4 (for reasons which are detailed at para 3.21 of the consultation paper).
The consultation paper was launched by community safety minister Fergus Ewing who stressed the seriousness of the project.
"High hedge disputes should be a relatively trivial matter, with those involved resolving things with a simple neighbourly chat. But for those involved, the issue can sometimes be far from trivial and we have seen from recent cases that such disputes can, in a relatively small number of instances, get out of hand. What starts off as an amicable discussion can often spiral out of control leading to confrontation and antisocial behaviour in our communities."
The consultation paper was welcomed by hedge related pressure group, Scothedge.
Dr Colin Watson, from Scothedge (a "branch of hedgeline" – which is the Campaign for Effective Legislative Control of Problem High Hedges of all species, in residential areas of the UK offering "advice and information for Hedge-Victims"), said:
"We are campaigning on behalf of over 250 people affected by uncontrolled and poorly maintained trees and hedges. In our experience the problem arises because under current law there is simply no requirement for a hedge grower to consider the impact his actions are having on his neighbour. We welcome the news that the Scottish Government is seeking a solution to this problem. Our members cover the length and breadth of Scotland from Skye to Dumfries and Arran to Fife."
Don't miss you chance to contribute to the consultation which closes in November.
PS The alternative heading was voted the funniest joke on this year's Edinburgh Fringe