Council branded ‘ridiculous’ after trees given ASBOs in row over whether they’re hedges

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The council issued a notice to chop down the evergreens on the grounds that they are legally defined as a hedge under the same laws covering anti-social behaviour orders. This decision comes after the council received one complaint from a local resident that the trees were blocking their light. Other local residents have now branded the decision as “ridiculous”.

The trees are very popular with local children who play in them and they are full of birds, squirrels and other animals.

A notice attached to the trees says: “Trees causing a nuisance as defined by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act – High Hedges section 8.”

When asked about the decision the council claimed that it is following national legislation that “designates this type of tree as a hedge”.

Chris Coldbreath, a local resident, told Bristol Live: “It is ridiculous that the council can designate these two massive trees as an antisocial hedge.

“I’ve read the definition in the act and it is so broad that yes, they can do this. But let’s be realistic, the intention of the act is to stop the spread of 10ft hedges along borders.

“It wasn’t intended to chop down 70ft trees that have been in an open area for years, trees full of wildlife.

“The council seems to have chosen to use the broadness of the definition to designate the trees as an antisocial hedge to allow it to cut them down.”

According to Mr Coldbreath, the council is also breaking its own policy when it comes to trees.

The policy reportedly states that the council does not “remove or prune a council-owned trees to improve natural light”.

The policy further states that “in law there is no general right to light” and that “if natural light is being blocked by the growth of a hedge then action may be taken to reduce the problem under the High Hedges [section] of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act”.

Mr Coldbreath added: “The reality is they may block a little light to a few homes but the policy is clear – no felling.

“I just cannot understand why they would want to do this when it is against their own policy. The whole thing is a travesty.”

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According to the Bristol Tree Forum, the Anti-Social Behaviour Act has a very unusual definition of a high hedge which is different to other accepted definitions in that it includes a “line of two or more evergreens”.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “The action being taken is not a matter of council policy but is to ensure compliance with national legislation, which designates this type of tree as a hedge.

“We are responding to a complaint about the hedge, in line with the legislation, and have reviewed the options available to us.

“Reducing these trees to the necessary size would leave them unlikely to survive and removing and replanting the tree has been agreed as the best option.

“The local councillors have been kept informed of these developments and we have received a number of comments from local residents supporting this approach.

“We’re also investigating and offering further tree-planting spots to bring us closer to our aim of doubling the city’s tree canopy by 2046.”

The council confirmed that “removing and replanting” meant chopping down the trees, and planting replacements of a type and a location to be decided.

Additional reporting by Adam Postans.

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