Enter the Ministry of Monster Hedges

ENVIRONMENT Infamous conifers grow into big issue as government starts consultation exercise. Meanwhile, an old monk may have the answer

PEACE IN Ireland seems to be poised on a knife-edge. Relations with France might be teetering on the brink of the abyss. But our Government, being the British Government, still has time to concentrate its attention on the problem of Hedges from Hell.

A full-scale Whitehall consultation exercise is being launched today on the subject of Leylandii - the rocketing cypress tree that turns friendly neighbours into mortal enemies - and other high garden hedges that become detested nuisances rather than ornamental boundaries.

Thanks to a bulging postbag on the subject, which far outweighs letters about global climate change or the hole in the ozone layer, ministers want to know if they should officially cut Leylandii down to size.

For starters they have produced a leaflet, The Right Hedge For You, which, without exposing the Government to any more accusations of running a nanny state, gently suggests to the prospective hedge planter that something capable of growing 100ft high at a rate of more than three feet a year (Leylandii, for example) is perhaps not entirely suitable for the patio of their maisonette. Now they are inviting views on whether to intervene directly with laws tackling overly high hedges.

The problem is a very real one, insists the Environment minister Michael Meacher. "From some of the cases people have written to me about, this is a very serious issue for them, causing them acute distress. Being literally overshadowed from very close next door is deeply disturbing to a lot of people, materially and psychologically. There is the loss of light and the whole psychological impact of living in the shade and being blocked off."

The Leylandii problem began in the 1960s when the feathery hybrid, a cross between the Nootka cypress of Alaska and the Monterey cypress of California, began to oust the much slower-growing privet as Britain's favourite garden hedge species. The Leylandii's runaway quality produced anguish for neighbours when owners did not managethe two or three severe trimmings a year necessary to keep it under control.

The Government estimates that over the past 30 years there have been about 17,000 cases of problem high hedges that have caused householders to contact their local council. In the past two years alone, the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has received 2,500 letters on the subject. "This is a very sensitive area, relations between neighbours," Mr Meacher said. "To plump for a solution without proper public consultation would not be wise."

n Your opinions about Leylandii and high hedges should be sent to: Funmi Wood, Rural Development Division, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Floor3/C5, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Supporting role: at the Supreme Court, Rhodes was accompanied by a famous friend, the actor Benedict Cumberbatch
booksPianist James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to stop the injunction of his memoirs
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
filmDheepan, film review
Sport
Steven Gerrard scores for Liverpool
sport
News
peopleComedian star of Ed Sullivan Show was mother to Ben Stiller
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?