Joint Committee On Human Rights Eighth Report

High Hedges (No. 2) Bill

37. The High Hedges (No. 2) Bill,[47] introduced by Mr Stephen Pound MP, published with Explanatory Notes prepared by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, would make local authorities responsible for providing a mechanism for deciding on complaints about high hedges which are said unreasonably to affect enjoyment of domestic property by obstructing light. A high hedge would be defined as a barrier to light or access consisting wholly or predominantly of two or more evergreens over two metres in height. If the local authority concluded that a high hedge unreasonably affected the enjoyment of neighbouring domestic property by obstructing light, the authority would be required to serve and, if necessary, enforce a remedial notice requiring the obstruction to be remedied within a set period. The Bill engages the right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions (ECHR Protocol 1, Article 1), the right to respect for private life and the home (ECHR Article 8), and the right to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal in the determination of civil rights and obligations (ECHR Article 6.1). In our view, the Bill pursues a legitimate aim (speedily settling disputes between neighbours about enjoyment of domestic property). Bearing in mind the fact that the rights of occupiers of adjoining domestic premises under ECHR Protocol 1, Article 1 and ECHR Article 8 have to be held in a fair balance with each other, and the prevalence and seriousness of some long-running disputes about hedges, the Bill seems to us to be properly regarded as responding to a pressing social need and being proportionate to the aim pursued. The procedures for appeals under clauses 7 to 9 seem to ensure that the proceedings would satisfy the requirements of ECHR Article 6.1. That being so, we do not consider that there is any significant risk of the Bill being intrinsically incompatible with human rights.

47   House of Commons Bill 28 Back

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