Ministers stop hedging on a big suburban issue

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Indy Politics

The end is finally in sight for "skyscraper" leylandii hedges which block light, cause subsidence and dramatically reduce property values.

The end is finally in sight for "skyscraper" leylandii hedges which block light, cause subsidence and dramatically reduce property values.

For years MPs have been inundated with protests about neighbours' hedges, which can rocket to 40ft in 10 years. This year, one dispute over a hedge led to a 66-year-old man shooting his neighbour dead in Lincolnshire and later hanging himself in a jail cell.

Yesterday the Government announced plans to give councils the power to intervene in "high hedge" disputes.

Common law only entitles people to cut branches hanging over their boundary line. Under the new powers town halls will be able to order homeowners to cut offending trees to 2m (6.6ft). If they refuse, they could be fined up to £1,000 and council workmen will be allowed to enter their properties and chop the hedges.

Ministers had hoped to get the new power on the statute book through a private members' Bill. But after two recent attempts were talked out in the Commons, they have decided to introduce the measure as part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Bill currently passing through Parliament. Stephen Pound, a Labour MP whose Bill was talked out in June, said: "I'm absolutely delighted, as are 10,000 hedge victims in the country."

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