Golf club told to cut trees that block light

The street next to the golf course showing the hight of the trees. Picture: Pressteam
The street next to the golf course showing the hight of the trees. Picture: Pressteam
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A GOLF club which claimed 32ft height trees on their course helped protect a neighbour’s house from stray balls have been ordered to chop them in half.

Officials at the Deer Park Golf and Country Club had been locked in a dispute with John Cochrane, 64, over claims massive leylandii trees were ruining his garden and blocking sunlight.

Mr Cochrane had complained the hedges on the course’s sixth hole even forced him to switch on lights in his house during the day due to the loss of light.

His bungalow in Livingston backs on to the 18-hole course but is bordered by a 88ft-long row of leylandii.

He successfully used High Hedge legislation to ask West Lothian Council to issue a notice forcing the club to reduce the height of the trees.

However, Deer Park officials appealed to the Scottish Government to halt the move, claiming it could result in a “constant stream of balls on to the property, causing a risk of physical damage and injury to residents in their gardens”.

It has now emerged government reporter Richard Hickman has dismissed the appeal and ruled the trees should be reduced to a maximum height of 15ft.

Mr Cochrane’s wife Elizabeth said they were happy with the decision.

She added: “It has been a lengthy battle but we are delighted to have won the appeal.”

Lawyers for the Cochranes had written to protest against the appeal by Deer Park.

They said: “No-one should have to turn on the interior lights in their house in the middle of a bright summer’s day.

“Beyond that, it is disingenuous of the appellant to consider that the ‘trees are essential to safety’ as golf was played within the golf course with houses on the other side where there is no tree barrier, and indeed at the outset when the golf course was created and the houses were constructed, there was no hedge, there was fence.

“The fence remains.”

Mr Hickman said the work should be completed by September 30.

He added: “Drawing these matters together, I find that this is a high hedge; that it has a serious adverse effect on the reasonable enjoyment of the house; that the reduction in height required by the council would be unlikely to increase the risk of golf balls entering this or other properties; and that any loss of amenity on the golf course resulting from this reduction would not justify quashing the notice.

“Accordingly I conclude that the high hedge notice should be upheld and the appeal dismissed.”

A Deer Park spokesman declined to comment.

The High Hedge (Scotland) Act, which came into force on April 1 last year, was designed to address disputes between neighbours.

Across the UK there have been thousands of rows between householders involving the fast-growing leylandii.