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
Michael McCarthy, formerly the Independent’s longstanding Environment Editor, now its Environment Columnist, is one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment and the natural world. He has won a string of awards for his work, including Environment Journalist of the Year (three times) and Specialist Writer of the Year in the British Press Awards in 2001. In 2007 he was awarded the Medal of the RSPB for “Outstanding Services to Conservation,” in 2010 he was awarded the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, and in 2011 the Dilys Breeze Medal of the British Trust for Ornithology. In 2009 McCarthy published Say Goodbye To The Cuckoo (John Murray), a study of Britain’s declining migrant birds.
Saturday 13 November 1999
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.
- 1 Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
- 2 What supermodels really think about posing in the nude
- 3 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 4 Black teen in critical condition after store employee 'shoots him for stealing 79-cent pack of cookies'
- 5 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
Humans of New York image of crying gay teen receives best response from Ellen DeGeneres
Swedish minister gives strongest case yet on why EU should stop turning away asylum seekers
North Korean defector flees to Finland 'with evidence of chemical testing on humans'
Isis schoolgirl Amira Abase who fled London to join terrorists in Syria mocks victims of Tunisia massacre
Father faces deportation to Thailand after 27 years in Britain for two 'stupid crimes'
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
£20000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established dealer gr...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is the UK's leading...
£23172 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading and fastest growing h...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an experienced Resident...