One of the first ever legal notices to be placed on an owner of hedges that block daylight from domestic premises was approved at Moray Council on Tuesday.
New legislation was introduced last year that was aimed at helping resolve disputes between neighbours – and that has been used by members of the planning and regulatory services committee to approve a bid by Donald Brown of Buinach Lodge in Kellas.
Mr Brown sought the ‘high hedge’ order to force his neighbour to take action over a row of trees that had reached 20m high.
Mr Brown claimed that the trees – a mixture of sitka spruce, larch, silver birch and beech – blocked the light to his home and left some rooms and part of the garden in shade.
While a neighbour objected to the order on the basis that his trees did not constitute a hedge, planning officers agreed with Mr Brown and recommended the notice be imposed that would order the neighbour, John Albiston, to reduce the height of the trees to 10m.
The decision was not unanimous, however, as Forres Councillor George Alexander did not agree that the trees constituted a hedge and expressed concern that granting the application would set a precedent in a part of the country which is heavily forested.
Committee chairman Councillor Chris Tuke conceded that deciding whether or not the line of trees constituted a hedge had not been straightforward.
He said: “I think it is fair to say that when the Act was drawn up the legislators probably had in mind more conventional types of hedging such as leylandii which can often be the cause of neighbour disputes.
“However, the legislation states that a row of two or more trees or shrubs can be defined as a hedge and if they are more than two metres above ground level they constitute a high hedge.
“The majority of members considered that these criteria were met in this case.”