High time! Cou­ple win bit­ter bat­tle over 50ft hedge af­ter 17-year row

Scottish Daily Mail - - Weekender - By Bart Dick­son

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

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