A Sydney man has taken his neighbours to court over a hedge growing on their property that he claimed blocked his sunlight and littered debris.
The neighbours, who live in Ropes Crossing, in Sydney’s west, have a row of 21 lilly pillies, which form a 3 to 4m tall hedge, growing along a boundary they share with the man.
The man applied to the Land and Environment Court to have orders made to prevent the trees from damaging his property and causing injury, and remedy the obstruction of sunlight he says they have caused.
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The man and his neighbours have a history of disputes with other matters, as well as the trees, Acting Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court David Galwey said in his decision last month.
Before taking the matter further, the man’s wife requested mediation outside court, but the neighbours refused.
In court, the man submitted the hedge extends across the boundary, and overhangs his driveway.
He said leaves and other debris falling from the trees build up on his driveway, staining it and blocking his drains.
When his boat was parked in the driveway, it became stained and developed mould, he submitted.
Following an onsite hearing, Galwey said he did not observe any damage to the man’s driveway.
“(The man’s) application also refers to the risk of injury from low branches to people walking on his driveway,” Galwey said.
“In my mind, (he) could easily prevent this by removing low branches, as he is entitled to do.”
The application on the first reason was refused, but was successful on sunlight obstruction.
Galwey found there was “severe obstruction of sunlight” by the hedge to a bedroom on the man’s property.
“(The man) submitted that he uses the bedroom as a study, where he works from home,” Galwey said.
“He submitted that most available sunlight is obstructed by the hedge.
“I accept this to be the case, as a result not only of the trees’ height, but also their spread across the boundary towards his dwelling.”
However, Galwey said the trees don’t need to be removed, and the sunlight obstruction could be reduced significantly without a loss of the hedge’s benefits to the neighbours.
“Maintaining the trees about a height of 3 metres, and pruning the hedge’s western face at the boundary, would restore most of (the man’s) sunlight while maintaining visual screening between the properties.
“(The neighbours) argued that the trees need to be 3.5 to 4 metres tall to screen, from all parts of their property, (the man’s) security cameras that are attached to his eaves.
“(The man) pointed out that his security cameras are pointed along his driveway, not towards the respondents.
“I find the (neighbours’) expectations regarding complete privacy are perhaps unfounded, and do not outweigh the advantages of restoring sunlight to (the man’s) windows.”
Galwey ordered that every April and November, the neighbours are to engage a contractor to prune the hedge so that it is not taller than 3.2m.
The hedge is also to be pruned to the boundary on the man’s side, the court ordered.