Saturday, 31 December 2016

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love And Understanding?

Once in a while we encounter people who are not happy about our planting trees. We are very conscious of boundary disputes, ownership issues, access rights, and interrupting householder's views. We plan our plantings accordingly.

Legally, neighbours can complain about hedges, if they consist of evergreen plants which are over two metres tall, and which affect the enjoyment of a house or garden.

Nothing we have ever planted (in 50+ years) has ever met these conditions.

But, we don't want to get drawn into neighbour disputes, and so are even more careful than the law requires us to be. We look at sight lines from houses, and will not plant where we think a neighbours view from their house or garden will be affected. We also refuse to plant evergreen hedges, even when a landowner requests them. Our plantings always comprise a mix of predominantly deciduous species.

Despite this, it is still not possible to entirely avoid neighbour ire.

Today we were planting a shelter belt between fields on a hillside. A mix of deciduous 20-40cm saplings, 2 metre spacing. The owners of the neighbouring field above where we were planting came out to tell us in very robust terms that the trees would be blocking the view of the valley from their land.

The trees we were planting today were at least 100 metres from their house, and there was no sight line from their house or garden - the only sight lines that may eventually be interrupted are from some non-permanent farming type structures, wooden sheds and some metal cages (for livestock?). It is unlikely that the deciduous trees we planted today will ever entirely block the view of the valley even from these temporary structures, and will not remotely impinge on it for at least 10 years. The fields slope quite steeply, and the planting was taking place well below the footings of even the temporary structures in the field above. But, the neighbours were, without doubt, very upset indeed.

Its a shame that this happened, and it was quite stressful - but brave efforts were made to reassure the neighbours, and our collective conscience is clear.

We have the full permission of the landowner for the planting we have agreed, and material and support from the Woodland Trust for the project. The rest of the planned planting is even further away from and further below the the level of the neighbours house.

We were: myself, Philip, Dave, Geoff, PA, Maxime, Claudine, Edouard, Tanya, Ben and Solo the Dog, Jess, Dianne and Lizzie the dog, Adrian, Peter T., Lesley, Robert, Hap and Sarah.

Back at the pub Dianne provided us with surplus Christmas cheese and crackers, and even cooked a pan of chestnuts on the open fire. A lovely end to an otherwise testing morning.

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