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Another hedge conundrum - I am legally obliged to cut down my neighbours hedge!

NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
I have a ‘private’ electricity line, private inasmuch as a previous owner paid for the line and connection to the junction box 800 metres from my house, crossing a large privately owned forested area and then my nearest actual neighbours fenced property.

Since I bought the house, I have discovered, courtesy of a delegation of Rural Police on my doorstep, that a law was introduced which made homeowners responsible for maintaining their ‘private’ electricity lines by chopping down trees and brush cutting a 2 metre corridor beneath the line and cutting back all overhanging tree branches as a fire prevention measure. Previously the responsibility lay with the electricity company (now privatised).

I employed a forest management company to cut the forest trees down, by far the largest part of it, but the near neighbours have refused me access to carry out the final stretch of work, despite me giving plenty of notice and explaining they are legally obliged to do so.

I can totally understand why they don’t want me to do it - it means me cutting back trees that provide welcome shade for their animal enclosures and sheds underneath the line (probably illegal constructions but hey ho) and also cutting down a large part of a spreading bamboo hedge (which is going to be an ongoing nightmare) and several fig trees that shield their house from the road.

If I am not allowed to do it, I am breaking the law, will be fined and will be held financially responsible for any forest fire the overgrown vegetation/trees tangled up in the electricity line may cause. To avoid this scenario and force them to allow me to do it, I can make a formal report to the RP - basically denounce them.

I plan to keep talking to them and persuade them over time that it’s far better for me to do it rather than they get a visit from the RP and a denunciation and fine themselves. All this is as much of a shock to them as me. Apparently, the previous owner had 3 denunciations and fines for failing to do it, thus leaving it in an atrocious state for me to sort out.

It’s a totally unfair, invidious law designed to set neighbour against neighbour- I really, really don’t want to fall out with the  or denounce them, but what do I do if they keep refusing? Not sure there is a solution, but it does kind of put neighbour hedge disputes into perspective when you are being forced by the law to actually raze your neighbours trees and hedges to the ground. If anyone can come up with a magic solution I would love to hear it!



  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,487
    Gosh Nollie, what a nightmare!  Does the neighbour also get their electricity from the same line though?  I don't see why you should be forced to cut down their trees if they don't want you to.  I would want to see a copy of the actual regulations before I did anything and would think it might be worth paying any fines (if reasonable) rather than do as they say. Are forest fires a feature in your region?
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    Hi Lizzie, I’ve read the relevant law and it’s all horribly true I’m afraid! The line provides electricity to my house only, they are on a corner and get theirs from a direct connection to the main public line serving the village. Forest fires aren’t common here, but knowing my luck... and it’s the financial recuperations of one that I worry about more than the fines. 
  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,839
    If your neighbours are legally oblidged then surely they don't want to face the fines either? In the UK I'd suggest burying the line across your neighbours land. It can be moled under trees, sheds etc if needs be or you might be able to find an easier route across their property. Or can the wire take a more clear aerial route and you put some new poles up? Not sure how you'd get any of that done in Spain though.

    Or time to go off-grid maybe? Solar panels, batteries and a generator can't be more expensive than paying for fire damage.
    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,571
    I don't think you have much choice but to make the formal report. fines are one thing, being held responsible for the cost and possible up for manslaughter if someone died in a forest fire is quite another.
    Unless as wild edges suggests you can get the line buried. it'll cost a bit but so will constantly cutting back trees.
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,992
    If they are refusing to allow you access to complete the work, if you explain this to the RP, does that not give you a good reason for non compliance?  Then it's up to the RP to do the legal stuff, or doesn't it work like that? It seems to me that you have done all you can, short of ignoring their wishes and trespassing on to their property. Hope it gets resolved quickly.  :)
  • Hampshire_HogHampshire_Hog Hampshire Coast 100m from the seaPosts: 1,089
    Sounds to me you need to clarify the various laws/regulations. I would suggest so a good solicitor Spanish law can be complicated from what I understand.

    "You don't stop gardening because you get old, you get old because you stop gardening." - The Hampshire Hog
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    Hi thanks for all your thoughts.

    I think suggesting burying the line would be more contentious, it would mean digging up their patio and going round their swimming pool. Unfortunately it’s a difficult corner with steep forested land and lots of bends so getting the aerial line moved out to the roadside would also be expensive and tricky (probably the reason the original owner persuaded them to let him run the line across their flatter land in the first place).

    I have a few months grace before the next visit from the rural police, so will keep plugging away and see if we can’t reach some sort of compromise before then, if not, explaining my dilemma to the RP is a really good idea AnniD, perhaps if I get them on board their powers of persuasion might be greater than mine. I know I might have to make a formal denunciation in the end, to prove their non-compliance, but this is tantamount to a declaration of war around here so that - or getting a solicitor involved - really is a last resort! 
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 21,135
    What a dreadful situation, another reason not to buy any property with anything shared. 
    Shame people can’t just get on with each other, what hope is there for the world as a whole.😱
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • wild edgeswild edges The north west of south east WalesPosts: 8,839
    Might be worth getting something in writing from your neighbour to say they are refusing access or find some way of proving you're trying to stay legal. It would be easy for them to turn around and say they had no idea about any of it.

    Tradition is just peer pressure from dead people
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 6,526
    Thing is, Lyn, it’s not shared, it’s exclusively mine, just crossing their land (with their permission originally, but before this law was introduced) if it was shared that would be better, at least that way the RP would be on their backs too! 

    I doubt I could get them to condemn themselves in writing, wild edges, but I could get the forest management company to testify that they refused them entry if it came to a formal dispute. I do sympathise with them, I wouldn’t want my trees and hedges cut down either. I am hoping they will see sense before it comes to that though.

    I will gird my loins, tackle them again soon and let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again for your perspectives.
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