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
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

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Technician

£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...

Recruitment Genius: Contact Centre Team Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...

Recruitment Genius: Shunter / HGV Driver

£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager / Estate Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate