North East SNP MSP Mark McDonald has hailed the passage of his Member’s Bill the High Hedges (Scotland) Bill.
Mr McDonald lodged the bill last October, winning the full support of the Scottish Government in taking forward the SNP’s manifesto pledge to deal with the problem of nuisance high hedges.
Since then Mr McDonald has guided the bill through the parliamentary process, liaising extensively with a range of groups and individuals throughout the process, including looking at similar legislation in force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The High Hedges (Scotland) bill has a broader scope than the legislation in place south of the border and tackles the issue of both evergreen and deciduous nuisance high hedges after Mr McDonald accepted an amendment expanding the definition to include deciduous hedges in recognition of the problems these hedges can cause in cutting light levels to domestic properties.
The bill enables individuals to take complaints about hedges to their local authority if other efforts to resolve disputes have been unsuccessful. Local authorities will have the power to compel hedge owners to act, or to take action on their behalf, if the hedge is deemed to be a high hedge under the terms set out by the bill. Both the complainant and hedge owner will have the right of appeal.
Following today’s vote, the bill is now awaiting Royal Assent and a discussion period with a variety of organisations as guidance is drawn up for local authorities on how the bill will operate. It is anticipated the bill will come into force in the first half of 2014.
Commenting, Mr McDonald said,
“I am delighted that the bill has been passed today by parliament. Given that there have been a number of unsuccessful attempts to pass this legislation since 2000, it has been a long time coming.
“I am grateful to the many organisations and individuals who have had an input to this process, and who have been working hard to ensure not just that the legislation came into effect, but that it was as robust and effective as possible.
“This legislation will provide an effective means of resolving high hedge disputes. It remains my wish to see disputes resolved amicably and without the need for any form of action by local authorities.
“I have no doubt that campaigners will be delighted to see this legislation come into effect.”