As of 2nd April 09,the Scottish Government has undertaken to launch a new consultancy on how best to resolve the high hedge issue in collaboration with the Scothedge team.
Whilst this appears to turnback the clock to the Executive Consultancy of 2000, due to the inability of Scott Barrie to progress and the strange inability to access the responses to his 2006 Consultancy, this latest consultancy is necessaary to strengthen any future Bill's chances within the politics of minority Government.
Earlier impressions that the English High Hedge legislation had imploded have turned out to be entirely wrong with some Local Authorities seeing over 90% withdrawal of expected use of the legislation owing to one of the parties realising that inspection would reject their refusal to acknowledge a neighbour's complaint and trimming appropriately.
Early estimates of a deluge of 40,000 outstanding cases have been proved massively excessive in the light of the effect of the legislation to encourage wise capitulations in the face of likely remedial orders and involvement with the law. The English expectations of implementation costs have been wildely excessive with 7 Local Authorities now abandoning any fee. Applying a 10/1 demographic defficit it seems highly likely that Scottish inspections would likely average less than 40 per year. Manageable by a small specialist team of inspectors(but avoiding problems of a Welsh lone inspector with apparent little sympathy for the spirit of the law).
Information from Hedgeline confirms that over the four years of implementation there have been 800 appeals which started as an estimated 2/3 of total cases and is currently at an estimated 1/3 of cases. Using this information, the average appeals rate over 4 years has been 50% which would make an arguable estimate for total English cases at 1600 or 400 per year. This hardly compares with the initial estimates of 40,000 cases awaiting inspection. With the statistical results spread over more than 300 English Authorities, the central appeals body has been the jewel in the English crown as the ultimate adjudicator of the real intent of the 2003 High Hedges Bill.
Not all of course has been successful. The crazy ruling that if trimming might kill a hedge and so reduce it below 2 metres height made the largest of hedges immune from any remedial order. Uncapped Local Authority fees have made access to the legislation a postcode lottery and excluded those without access to funds from the service. Only the complainant calling in the inspectors has to pay anything should the hedge owner comply with a remedial order. The narrow definition of a hedge has made the legislation useless for very many people.
But this information is now available to the Government team searching for a better Scottish solution.
This is now ongoing work and ultimately will depend upon the reliability of evidence based claims by the Scothedge team supported by Scothedge members throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.
Of high importance will be the final vote by MSPs in the Holyrood Chamber and the quality of member feedback to Scothedge who are assured of a group authority when responding to the summer 2009 consultancy. Keep the pressure up on MSPs who are your route into the Parliament. Scothedge will be targetting a number of diverse Scottish cases in order to avoid some of the problems of the English implementation.
Formed in 1998, Hedgeline(www.hedgeline.org) is a large lobby and support group with over 4,000 members throughout the U.K. The Scottish Branch, Scothedge, was formed to lobby the devolved Holyrood Parliament in order to gain legislation to overcome the unfair power of high hedge owners to ignore the impact of their excessive hedges upon neighbours.
Scothedge provides members with comprehensive advice and information drawing upon the practical experience of thousands of hedge victims.
Electronic text for this news release is at www.pentlandhedge.colwat.com/REL_1.htm
Dr. Colin Watson, Campaign Leader, Scothedge
Tel 0131-449-3037 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam & James McDougal, Scothedge Organisers.
Havana, 3, Teapot Lane, Inverkeilor, Angus DD11 5RP
Tel.01241-830-238 E-mail email@example.com