Trees, Woodlands and Hedges

Trees, Hedges and the Law

High hedge next to house

Boundary problems

If trees overhang a boundary, they can cause problems. However, if you are on the receiving end of this you are usually entitled to remove the overhang, so long as it does not damage the rest of the tree or compromise its health and stability.

Roots are harder to see but the law is the same. If the cut material has any value (e.g. fruit or timber or firewood) you have to offer it to the owner so as to avoid being charged with theft. Obviously, this has the makings of a neighbour dispute, so an amicable agreement is by far the best way to approach this.

Before you set to on an overhanging tree or hedge, it would be a very good idea to contact the owner and make sure they know you are going to do the work. It will almost always be easier if you can co-operate with them.

Make sure you know exactly where your boundary is, and do not go over it at all or do anything to any tree or hedge beyond it unless your neighbour has said you may.

Hedgerows regulations

Hedgerows on non-domestic land are usually protected by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997.  These can consist of hedgerows on field boundaries on roadsides for example, but not on garden boundaries.  If someone wishes to completely remove a section of protected hedgerow they must make a formal removal application to the council.

There is no charge for such an application, but the application has a six week deadline date and no work may commence until the council’s decision is made available. 

The hedgerow removal form can be accessed by clicking on the “Do it online” tab at the top of this page.

High hedges

  • There is no general requirement that all hedges should be kept below a certain height.
  • There is no limit to the height of a hedge or a tree in a garden.
  • There is no law prohibiting the planting of leylandii trees.
  • There is no such thing as an automatic ‘right to light’ or a view.

The High Hedges Bill is part 8 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act and it gives the council powers to intervene in hedge dispute between neighbours but only as a last resort. The complainant must be able to demonstrate that they have tried to resolve the dispute both verbally and in writing before the council can deal with the complaint.  If these attempts are unsuccessful they must also write to the hedge owner to inform them of their intention to complain to the council.

For the trees to constitute a high hedge they must be:

  • Made up of two or more trees.
  • More than 2 metres in height.
  • Capable of obstructing light or views.
  • Evergreen or semi-evergreen.
  • Growing on land owned by somebody else.

Making a complaint about a high hedge incurs a fee of £500 which is payable to the Isle of Wight Council along with an online complaint form which can be viewed by clicking here or the 'Do it Online' tab at the top of the page.

If you do make a complaint, you should continue to negotiate with the hedge’s owner.  Once a complaint has been made they might change their mind about the hedge. If you are able to withdraw the complaint before the council has started the process, you may be entitled to a refund for part of the fee paid but this is at the council's discretion.

A leaflet entitled: 'High Hedges: complaining to the council' can be viewed by clicking here