Development & Planning Authority - P.2016/41
The States are asked to decide:-
Whether they are of the opinion to approve the draft Projet de Loi entitled "The High Hedges (Guernsey) Law, 2016", and to authorise the Bailiff to present a most humble petition to Her Majesty praying for Her Royal Sanction thereto.
This proposition has been submitted to Her Majesty's Procureur for advice on any legal or constitutional implications in accordance with Rule 4(1) of the Rules of Procedure of the States of Deliberation and their Committees.
This Law provides for a means of addressing significant adverse effects on the enjoyment of homes by blocking of light caused by evergreen and semi-evergreen high hedges where all other reasonable steps have failed. The draft Law is similar to legislation on High Hedges already in force in Jersey, England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Part I describes the evergreen hedges to which the Law applies (clause 1), the dwellings and other residential property in respect of which a complaint can be made (clauses 2 and 3) and the owners and occupiers who can make a complaint (clause 4) when all other reasonable steps to address the issue have failed (clause 5).
Part II sets out the procedure for complaints to be made to and considered by the Development & Planning Authority ("the Authority"). The procedures provide for owners of the land on which the hedge is situated to be given the opportunity to make representations in relation to the complaint and the matters the Authority has to consider in making the complaint (clause 8(3) to (6)) which include both the adverse effects of the hedge and the extent to which the hedge contributes to the privacy and enjoyment of neighbouring land. Clauses 9 and 10 set out the notices to be given of the decision of the Authority including the required content of a high hedge notice where the Authority decides that a complaint is justified and that action must be taken by the owner or occupier of the land on which the hedge is situated. The Authority cannot require the removal of a hedge or for it to be reduced below 2 metres in height.
Clause 11 sets out the effect of a high hedge notice which is binding on every person who is for the time being the owner or occupier of the land on which the hedge is situated. For this reason notices have to be copied to all owners or occupiers and provision is also made for a register of high hedges under clause 29.
Part III provides for rights of appeal to the Planning Tribunal for both the complainant and the owner or occupier of the land on which the hedge is situated against specified decisions of the Authority on the grounds set out in that Part (clauses 13 and 14). Clause 16 sets out the powers of the Planning Tribunal on an appeal and further detailed appeal procedure is set out in the Schedule.
Part IV provides for enforcement powers including powers for the Authority to enter neighbouring land where a high hedge is situated to determine a complaint or to take action where requirements of a high hedge notice are not met (clauses 18 and 19). A warrant is required to enter without consent or by force. Provision is made for offences including for failure to comply with a high hedge notice in clause 21 for which the maximum penalty is a level 4 fine.
Part V sets out the fees payable on the making of a complaint and on an appeal.
Part VI provides for a public register of high hedge notices (clause 29) and for guidance to be issued in relation to the Law (clause 30). The remainder of the Law sets out standard provisions relating to service of documents, powers to make Ordinances and regulations and the interpretation clause.