Accessing neighbouring land to prune a hedge

There is no automatic right to enter onto neighbouring land for the purpose of pruning a hedge. A person who enters on to the land of another without their permission or some other form of lawful authority commits a trespass.

If you wish to enter onto your neighbour’s land for the purpose of pruning a hedge which belongs to you, you should in the first instance seek your neighbour’s permission. If their permission is not forthcoming it may be possible to obtain an “access order” under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992.

In what circumstances can an access order be granted?

The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 gives the County Court and the High Court (an application will normally, however, be made in the County Court) the power to make an access order where a person wishes to enter upon land which adjoins their own land or is adjacent to their own land and needs, but does not have, the permission to enter upon that land provided that all of the following conditions are met:

  • the works must be reasonably necessary for the preservation of the whole or any part of the applicant’s land;

  • such works cannot be carried out, or it would be substantially more difficult to carry out such works, without entry upon the neighbour’s land;

  • where the application relates to the maintenance of a hedge, the hedge is, or is in danger of becoming, damaged, diseased, dangerous, insecurely rooted or dead.

Since it is necessary to show that the hedge is, or is in danger of becoming, damaged, diseased, dangerous, insecurely rooted or dead a Court will not grant an access order in respect of routine maintenance.

A court will not make an access order if any of the following situations apply:

  • where the neighbour or any other person would suffer interference with, or disturbance of, his use or enjoyment of the neighbouring land were an access order to be made to such a degree by reason of the entry that it would be unreasonable to make such an order;

  • where the neighbour, or any other person in occupation of the whole or any part of the neighbouring land, would suffer hardship were an access order to be made to such a degree by reason of the entry that it would be unreasonable to make such an order;

  • where the neighbouring land upon which access is sought is a highway.

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For more information on:

  • What rights and obligations does a person who is a party to an access order have?
  • Is there any other way in which access to neighbouring land can be lawfully obtained?