MSP cultivates plans for a Bill to tackle high hedges

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LOTHIANS Conservative MSP David McLetchie today announced plans to introduce a member’s bill to tackle high hedges.

Thousands of people across Scotland are said to be plagued by neighbours who allow trees and hedges like leylandii to grow out of control, overshadowing their homes and blocking out light.

Mr McLetchie said former community safety minister Fergus Ewing had promised last year that the government would bring forward legislation on the issue “at the earliest opportunity” after the election. The SNP manifesto also promised action.

But there was no mention of the problem in the list of 15 bills presented to the Scottish Parliament by First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday.

Now Mr McLetchie says unless the government does come forward with proposals he will draft a member’s bill to give those affected by high hedges the right to go to court to get an order for them to be reduced in height.

He said: “The failure to progress this legislation is little short of a disgrace. In September of last year Fergus Ewing hosted a meeting attended by 20 MSPs, the campaign organisation Scothedge and aggrieved householders, at which general agreement was reached on the legal way forward to deal with this problem.

“At this meeting he undertook to bring forward legislation after the election. The Scottish Government has conspicuously failed to honour this undertaking and betrayed those who thought that at long last the Scottish Parliament would tackle this problem.”

He said legislation on the issue was introduced in England more than seven years ago.

“The Scottish Government should bring forward legislation now and, if not, support a member such as myself who is quite prepared to do so.”

Mr Ewing told MSPs he was sure his successor Roseanna Cunningham had the issue “at the forefront of her agenda”.

Colin Watson, of the Scothedge campaign, had a long-running dispute with former Hearts chief executive Chris Robinson over a giant hedge which towered over his home in Balerno.

He said the issue had been raised in the Scottish Parliament in 2001 and it had “taken longer than World War Two” to get something done.

He said: “This is not a trivial problem, as some people seem to think.

“The trees are so oppressive the garden can’t grow anything, you have to have your lights on all day and you can’t complain to anyone because the law is on their side.”

Dr Watson said ScotHedge had been working with Ms Cunningham to draw up potential legislation.

He said: “We are disappointed the measure has not appeared in the programme, but we’re not certain that means it’s not going to happen.”

He said he was “100 per cent behind” Mr McLetchie’s initiative as a way of putting pressure on the government.

iswason@edinburghnews.com