Scottish Government Orders HedgeCutAfter Blocking Sunlight

The Scottish Government ordered Veterans Housing Scotland to cut a 30ft hedge by a third to 20ft, citing its impact on neighboring property owner Ryan Taylor's sunlight. The ruling overturns Fife Council's initial refusal to take action on Taylor's complaint under high hedge legislation.

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Nitish Verma
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Scottish Government Orders HedgeCutAfter Blocking Sunlight

Scottish Government Orders HedgeCutAfter Blocking Sunlight

The Scottish Government has ordered Veterans Housing Scotland (VHS) to cut a 30ft high hedge at a property in Cherrybank, Dunfermline, Fife, by a third to 20ft. The hedge, owned by VHS, was blocking sunlight to the rear of Ryan Taylor's home, keeping his garden in darkness.

Why this matters: This ruling sets a precedent for property owners and local authorities to consider the impact of high hedges on neighboring properties, highlighting the importance of balancing individual rights with community needs. It also underscores the Scottish Government's commitment to upholding citizens' rights to reasonable enjoyment of their properties.

Taylor complained to Fife Council under high hedge legislation, but the council refused to take action, ruling there was no "detrimental" impact on his home. Taylor appealed the decision to the Scottish Government, which ultimately ordered the hedge to be cut down.

In his appeal, Taylor stated, "I don't share the view of the council that spacing between trees allows adequate lighting, as date of site visit was 28/11/2023 when trees and other hedges and shrubbery are dormant having shed leaves and foliage etc."

However, VHS property manager Lindsay Dunbar-Shaw argued,"When the homeowners purchased these properties, it is reasonable to assume that they were aware of the presence of these trees... These trees serve a crucial purpose beyond mere aesthetics. They provide a sense of privacy and security to ourexveterans, who have bravely served our country."

The property in question is owned by VHS, which rents out homes to former soldiers who are disabled. The charity, founded during the First World War, aims to provide homes for people with disabling and life-changing injuries. VHS owns other properties in the street and surrounding area.

In the appeal decision published on May 3, 2024, government reporter Sarah Foster stated,"My perception is that the hedge is therefore an overbearing and dominant feature that would affect the appellant's reasonable enjoyment of this amenity space regardless of whether or not it causes any undue loss of light to the garden as a whole."

The Scottish Government's ruling requires the 30ft high hedge to be reduced by 10ft to a new height of 20ft. The decision overturns Fife Council's initial refusal to take action on Taylor's claimed under high hedge legislation. VHS must now comply with the government order to cut the hedge down by a third.