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The BBC's Daniel Boettcher
"It marks the end of a long fought battle"
 real 56k

Michael Jones of hedge campaign group, Hedgeline
"A blanket impenetrable green shield"
 real 56k

Friday, 11 August, 2000, 08:17 GMT 09:17 UK
Nuisance hedges tackled
Protesters demanding new hedge laws
Protesters called for new laws on the monster hedges
The problem of towering hedges that can cause bitter rows between neighbours will be tackled by new government measures.

Leylandii can grow to a height of 30 metres and are often used as wind-breaks, sight screens and to mark out property boundaries.

But disputes between neighbours over the height of the trees have become a common occurrence in recent years, with some ending in court.

The government is promising to give local councils powers to order the trimming of nuisance hedges if mediation between neighbours fails.

Overgrown garden hedges have caused distress to thousands of people

Michael Meacher
Environment Minister Michael Meacher said the government took the problem of Leylandii very seriously.

"We recognise that overgrown garden hedges have caused distress to thousands of people," he said.

"Our consultation has confirmed the overwhelming support for tougher controls and that is why we will work up new laws to give local authorities in England powers to intervene in neighbourhood hedge disputes."

'Lives ruined'

Of the 3,000 people who took part in the consultation, 97% thought the government should try to solve the hedge problems. Most respondents - 94% - felt new laws were needed to control nuisance hedges.

Several high-profile disputes over the trees have made the news recently.

Retired GP Dr Anthony Fogarty was fined 500 by Central Norfolk Magistrates in Swaffham last July.

Leylandii: Can grow to 30 metres
The 60-year-old had chopped down a row of 14 Leylandii trees, which were in a conservation area, to let more light into his home.

The government's announcement has been welcomed by campaigners.

Clare Hinchliffe, vice-president of Hedgeline, said the group welcomed measures to give local authorities the power to intervene.

"Some people have had their lives ruined for ages, so it's wonderful," she said.

"Our only worry is that there is still a lot of work to be done," she said.

Mr Meacher said the new laws would be introduced as soon as there was space in the parliamentary timetable.

But the Conservative Party accused the government of unnecessary delay over the issue.

Nigel Waterson, Tory spokesman for local government, said the government had been receiving complaints since 1997.

"John Prescott must take responsibility for this lack of action and the culture of incompetence within his department," he said.

"The nightmare of high hedges will continue for thousands of home owners thanks to Labour's dithering and lack of delivery," he added.

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See also:

25 Nov 98 | UK Politics
'Hedge abuse' victims demand action
07 May 99 | UK
Peace move in hedge feud
13 Nov 99 | UK
Move to cut hedge wars
10 Dec 98 | UK Politics
MPs attack monster hedges
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