The High Hedges Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 gives Councils in Northern Ireland the powers to deal with complaints about high hedges that block light to a neighbouring properties.
There are a number of criteria that a hedge must meet before someone can make a complaint. For the law to apply the hedge must:
• Be made up of a line of 2 or more evergreen or semi-evergreen plants, trees or shrubs which are acting as a barrier to light
• Reach a height of at least 2 metres from ground level on hedge owner’s side
• Have no significant gaps
You cannot make a complaint about:
• non-evergreen hedges or trees
• trees within a forest or woodland
• Roots, dangerous trees, or leaves.
Where you have a problem with a high hedge that blocks light you will be expected to have tried to resolve the issue informally and amicably BEFORE a complaint is made to Council and demonstrate (for example by providing letters to the hedge owner) that you have made every reasonable attempt to engage with your neighbour.
If resolving the issue with your neighbour informally does not work and you are coming to Council as a last resort, you can submit a complaint. You will need to pay a fee of £50 however if your complaint is upheld, this fee will be refunded to you.
Council will not negotiate between neighbours but will investigate and make a judgement as to whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of his or her property.
If Council decides that the complaint is justified, it may serve a notice on the hedge owner specifying what needs to be done to manage the hedge.
The following information may be of assistance to you
• High Hedges What You Need to Know!
• Q&A Briefing
• Guidance For Complainants
• Guidance for Hedge Owners
• High Hedges Act (NI) 2011 Technical Guidance
• High Hedge Complaint Application Form
For further information please contact the Health, Housing and Public Conveniences Team
T: 028 71253253