NEIGHBOURS of ex-RBS boss Fred Goodwin are planning to use a new law to force the former banker’s estranged wife to cut back an “oppressive” 25ft hedge outside his city mansion.
The former chief executive, who was stripped of his knighthood and is facing a £4bn lawsuit from RBS shareholders for his part in the collapse of the bank, has been locked in a two-year legal battle over the 25ft leylandii hedge that shields the £3.5m property from other homes.
Neighbours claim the wall of vegetation blocks out the light and prevents plants from growing in their own gardens, and plan to become one of the first groups in the Capital to take action under the new High Hedges (Scotland) Bill, which came into force last month.
It gives councils the right to force homeowners to cut hedges which are more than 6ft 6in tall if they form a barrier to light. Councils have the power to enforce cutting back orders, if owners do not have the work carried out themselves.
Mr Goodwin bought the home, in swanky Laverockdale Park, in June 2011 after his property in The Grange was targeted by vandals.
After he split from his now-estranged wife Joyce she remained at the new address and although recent efforts have been made to reduce the size of the hedge, neighbours still believe it is unacceptably high.
One neighbour, Gavin Hamilton, 49, a marketing manager, said he hoped the hedges law would force Mr Goodwin to take action. He said: “I think it’s a good idea to restrict hedges that grow too far. That hedge in particular is just oppressive and forces the light away from the houses.”
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “Six foot probably isn’t high enough for privacy, but it doesn’t have to be 17ft either.
“I think 7ft or 8ft would be enough to give privacy, and fair to both sides.”
Neighbours can apply to City of Edinburgh Council for the high hedge notice if they are unable to reach an agreement.
The council can then charge up to £500 to carry out the pruning if the homeowner does not complete it at their own expense.
The legislation goes further than similar laws south of the Border by including both evergreen hedges and those consisting of deciduous plants that shed their leaves.
Another Laverockdale Park resident said: “Although it is not directly beside my house, I know those houses directly affected have been campaigning for a while to get the hedge cut shorter.
“Hopefully the new rules will mean it can be less of a problem in future for everyone. I think it would be good if both parties could reach a compromise.”
It is believed that a small group of Mr Goodwin’s neighbours attended Holyrood to see the high hedges law passed.
Mr Goodwin’s home in Laverockdale Park has large entry gates and a state-of-the-art security system, as well as tall trees which provide shade.
Inside, it boasts a tennis court, Japanese garden and a circular fountain in the driveway.