Published Tuesday, 13 March 2012
An attempt should be made to resolve the dispute with the 'high hedge' owner. (© Pacemaker)
The Northern Ireland High Hedges Act has been designed to help people affected by high hedges bordering their domestic property.
Specifically, it will deal with evergreen and semi-evergreen hedges more than 2 metres in height which block light to a neighbouring domestic property.
However, before making a complaint, the issue should be discussed with the neighbour in a bid to resolve the dispute.
The penalty for non-compliance with a remedial notice served by a council will be a fine of up to £1,000.
A further fine for continued non-compliance can be issued.
Mr Attwood said: "This is an important piece of legislation which I hope will go a long way towards reducing the number of disputes over high hedges.
"District councils will have an important role in administering and enforcing the legislation. They will investigate complaints and will have the power to issue remedial notices requiring hedge owners to take action to reduce the height of a hedge found to be causing a problem."
He added: "I hope that the very existence of the Act and its financial implications will be an added incentive for neighbours to reach agreement.
"I want to ensure that long-suffering complainants will not be out-of-pocket."
The Department of Environment has also brought forward legislation to transfer the obligation to pay for investigating the complaint to the owner of the high hedge.
The minister said: "I am pleased that the necessary fee legislation is now in place and complainants will not be expected to pay more than £360 to have a hedge complaint investigated.
"Councils can now deal with high hedge complaints and we will see an end to the blight of high hedge problems."