High time! Couple win bitter battle over 50ft hedge after 17-year row
A COUPLE have claimed victory in a 17-year battle with a neighbour over a 50ft hedge that has blocked sunlight from their garden.
Roger and Catharine Niven had been locked in a lengthy clash with Brian Rizza over massive leylandii trees on his substantial detached property.
The dispute – which has seen the Nivens give evidence to the Scottish parliament about high hedge misery – saw them write to Mr Rizza, 68, in 2001 asking him to reduce the hedge.
They complained it left the back garden of their Inverness home in darkness and pleaded with the wealthy building boss to have it trimmed.
But their bid failed and despite writing to him the following year, and on other occasions, no action was taken by Mr Rizza, who claimed cutting them down would damage wildlife. The Nivens used the introduction of high hedge legislation in 2014 to ask Highland Council to force Mr Rizza to take action.
They were supported by several of their neighbours, who also complained about problems caused by the hedge.
The group were relieved when officials sided with them and ordered the hedge be reduced to 7ft last year.
But they were left crestfallen when an appeal against the order was submitted to the Scottish Government by Mr Rizza.
However, a government reporter has agreed the hedge should be cut down to size within ten months.
Mr and Mrs Niven appeared at the Scottish parliament last year where they told politicians how they had struggled to reach an amicable solution with their neighbour.
Mr Niven, 67, said: ‘The hedge is causing us unhappiness because our
house is completely overshadowed, even in the height of summer, and because we cannot enjoy our garden at any time because of this high hedge.
‘It is also costing us hundreds of pounds annually to clear the roof of our house of moss generated by the shade of the hedge.
‘Overall, this situation is continuing to cause us considerable stress and a feeling of helplessness.’
The couple also said the hedge ‘totally dominates’ their garden and cuts out all sunlight.
Mr Niven added: ‘It has a depressing effect upon us.’
Documents submitted on behalf of Mr Rizza had denied the leylandii formed a hedge and said it was only an area of woodland. Reporter Sinead Lynch said: ‘I find the high hedge to be a barrier to light, reducing the reasonable enjoyment of the house and impacting on both the windows of habitable rooms and the garden to the rear of the house.
‘A reduction in the height of the hedge would not significantly alter the privacy or outlook of the hedge owner and I therefore find the high hedge notice, subject to my variations, to be proportionate and reasonable.’
High hedge laws were designed to address disputes between neighbours.
Under the High Hedges (Scotland) Act – the so-called ‘leylandii law’ – homeowners can apply for a notice forcing their neighbours to cut back the offending trees.
Homeowners who have taken all reasonable steps to resolve the matter can apply to their council for a high hedge notice. This can order the owner to cut it back.
‘House is completely overshadowed’
At long last: The Nivens, inset, will finally see the hedge cut back