Hedges can add a lot to a property and be a haven for wildlife. High hedges are above two metres tall and could cause a problem for your neighbour. The Northern Ireland High Hedges Act can help resolve what can often be a tricky issue between neighbours.
The legislation is designed to help people who are affected by high hedges acting as a barrier to light to their domestic property. The law specifically deals with evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges which are the most popular but also present the most problems.
Councils enforce the legislation. Ards and North Down Borough Council investigates any complaints that are brought under the act. Where you have a problem with a high hedge you will be expected to have tried to resolve the issue before you complain to the council.
The council does not negotiate between neighbours but investigates a complaint and makes a judgement as to whether the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant's reasonable enjoyment of their property.
We will only intervene if a complaint is made and even then, each case will be determined on its own merits. However it is hoped that the very existence of the legislation will encourage neighbours to work together to resolve their dispute, thus avoiding the need for the council to get involved.
Hedges under two metres will not need to be cut down. You don't need permission to grow or retain a hedge along the boundary of your property.
If the council decides that the complaint is justified, it will serve a notice on the hedge owner specifying what needs to be done to manage the hedge and the date by which this should be done.
It is an offence not to comply with the terms of a remedial notice. The penalty for non-compliance with a remedial notice will be a fine of up to £1,000 with the possibility of further fines for continued non-compliance.
For more information contact the Licensing and Regulatory team on 0300 013 3333.
- Guidance for complainants (pdf 104 KB)
- Guidance for hedge owners (pdf 77 KB)
- Technical Guidance - Northern Ireland High Hedges Act (pdf 697 KB)