A selection of images representing communities.
Wouldn't it have been easier to introduce a general height restriction on hedges?
A general height restriction would not work because there are plenty of neighbours who are quite happy with the high hedge growing between them. It would be unreasonable to suddenly tell them that their hedge was no longer considered acceptable and must be cut down. There are also cases where a tall hedge is a positive benefit. For example, it might screen something unsightly or block the view of, say, a busy road. It might act as a windbreak, protecting tender plants or crops. One size hedge does not fit all.
Why not just apply the planning rules on the height of walls and fences to hedges?
This option was considered - and ruled out - in our 1999 consultation paper High hedges: possible solutions. Requiring planning permission for high hedges in the way that it is required for fences or walls seems a simple and logical solution. The issue is, however, fundamental to planning law as it would need a change to the definition of development to include the planting or growing of hedges. Such a major step could not be taken lightly.
In addition, this solution has practical difficulties. For instance, it would not be clear to people at what point a growing hedge would exceed the height limit and require planning permission. It would affect all hedges, whether or not they were causing problems. This would be intrusive. There are also doubts about whether it would apply to all existing high hedges and so how effective it would be in solving these problems.
Why not adopt the European solution of a simple height and distance rule that operates across the board?
Some countries in continental Europe have laws imposing a height limit on trees and hedges that are within a certain distance of a property's boundary. These laws tend to date back 100 years or more and are a well-established part of those countries' legal systems. We do not have the same tradition in the UK. If we were, therefore, to introduce a similar system here, it would represent a significant intrusion into people's lives and property rights.