Factsheet: Hedges and verges

Introduction

Hedges can help prevent problems such as soil erosion, and proper management of hedges and verges is important for road safety.

Who is responsible for maintenance?
Many hedges and trees grow on the edge of the highway and mark its boundary with private property. In these cases the adjacent landowner or occupier is responsible for maintaining them. This also applies to trees that overhang the highway or fall on to it. If you are unsure whether you are the owner check your property deeds or The Land Registry.

The Highways Act 1980 (Section 154) says that we, as the highway authority, have to protect the safety of highway users by ensuring that owners and occupiers carry out their legal duty to maintain roadside hedges and trees.

Owners and occupiers are required to:

  • trim hedges and trees to ensure growth does not obscure the view of road signs
  • trim roadside hedges to maintain visibility for road users, particularly at junctions and on the inside of bends
  • trim any hedge that directly abuts a road, footway, cycleway or public right of way so that growth does not prevent the passage or affect the safety of the highway user, including cyclists and pedestrians
  • remove dead or decaying trees and other growth that may fall across the highway
  • remove branches and other growth that may prevent the passage of high-sided vehicles or obstruct light from a street light
  • ensure the highway (including the footway and drainage features) is left clear of debris from any cutting operations.

We maintain all trees growing within the highway limits, with the exception of trees planted under special licence.

 

What happens if I don’t maintain my hedges and trees?
We make every effort to encourage owners and occupiers to cut hedges, and we work closely with parish councils to identify occupiers who neglect this.

Where roadside growth is becoming a problem we may serve a notice on the owner or occupier requiring the work to be completed within a certain timeframe. If the work still isn’t done, we may do it ourselves and claim back the cost from the owner or occupier.

 

What happens if I have a dispute about a neighbour’s hedge?
We would not be involved in neighbour hedge disputes, but you may want to contact your district council for advice if all other attempts deal with the situation have failed.