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Saturday, November 13, 1999 Published at 04:11 GMT


Move to cut hedge wars

Leylandii grow fast and grow high

Householders are to be asked if they want new laws to curb the growth of "monster hedges".

The government consultation exercise, High Hedges: Possible Solutions, is also offering potential alternatives to giant hedges, which have caused some fierce disputes between neighbours.

The BBC's Margaret Gilmore: New laws are being suggested
The alternatives include extending to gardens the right to light that currently applies to buildings.

But the exercise, launched this weekend, has been condemned as "passing the buck" by the Conservatives.

[ image: Michael Meacher: Seeking
Michael Meacher: Seeking "common sense" solution
The consulting process has been launched alongside a leaflet entitled The Right Hedge For You, which offers advice on choosing and maintaining hedges.

Research published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has shown that many thousands of complaints are made to local authorities about hedges.

Coniferous and other evergreen hedges including Leylandii, grown as wind breaks or visual screening, have attracted the most complaints.

Michael Meacher: I have had a very large postbag about this matter
Environment Minister Michael Meacher said: "Over the past two years a large portion of my postbag has been from people whose lives are being made a misery by ill-advised planting or lack of maintenance of hedges.

"I hope that as a result of consultation we can come up with common sense solutions."

[ image: Damian Green: Wants quicker action]
Damian Green: Wants quicker action
Damian Green, Conservative environment spokesman, criticised the moves to ease disputes between neighbours over "nuisance hedges" as "half-hearted".

He said: "Michael Meacher acknowledges that he has been receiving complaints about disputes over hedges for two years - and so far he has done nothing at all to help.

"The people most affected will regard this as passing the buck.

"Even now, all he has announced is a consultation exercise. By the time the consultation has been carried out, it will be another two years at least before there is a chance for any legislative solution to this problem."

Last year, nearly 200 MPs backed a call for new laws to protect people whose lives are blighted by neighbours' hedges and trees.

The pressure group Hedgeline, which is campaigning for tougher legal restrictions, says it has the backing of more than 2000 victims.

Boundary hedges have been at the root of some of the longest-running disputes between neighbours.

Michael Jones, the Birmingham man who founded Hedgeline, was involved in a 28-year saga that was only resolved earlier this year.

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