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NSW Land and Environment Tribunal rejects demand for hedge to be removed from neighbour, Port Macquarie

Hedge-row: Read the judge’s scathing verdict after a woman took her neighbor to court over complaints that his trees were blocking her sunlight

  • A woman claimed that a hedge was blocking sunlight at her home
  • Case dismissed by New South Wales Land and Environment Tribunal

A woman who claimed her neighbor’s hedge was blocking sunlight on her property was criticized for wasting the court’s time.

Lynette May Schulze, from Port Macquarie on the north coast of New South Wales, claimed that her neighbor Jones Russell’s property severely obstructed sunlight in four windows of her house.

Schulze, who has lived on the same property since 1980, reached an agreement with Russell to allow him to trim the 17 lilies along the common boundary of the two properties.

Russell’s property has been leased to tenants after he purchased it in 2018.

Schulze applied to the New South Wales Land and Environment Tribunal last year to have his neighbor’s hedge trimmed every three months or removed entirely.

The NSW Land and Environment Tribunal ruled that the trees did not obstruct sunlight

He argued that the tenants had been ‘verbally and physically aggressive’ when he tried to trim the trees to the height of the 1.8m fence because they wanted the trees to be taller in a bid for more privacy.

The woman claimed that her neighbor's hedge was blocking sunlight at her house.

The woman claimed that her neighbor’s hedge was blocking sunlight at her house.

The trees were about 2.5 m tall at the time of application.

Russell stated that he too would prefer the hedge to grow to around 1.5m above the fence height of 1.8m.

Schulze also claimed in his application to the court that his declining physical capacity was beginning to inhibit his ability to trim the hedge that Russell was repurposing to help with upkeep.

Acting Court Commissioner John Douglas denied Schulze’s request after an on-site hearing.

“Views of the applicant’s nominated district of native and urban vegetation were not obstructed by the hedge, and the hedge also did not obstruct sunlight in the nominated windows,” he said.

“The hedge was located beyond a sloping lawn at least 10 m to the east of the applicant’s residence.”

Douglas said Schulze had wasted everyone’s time, including the court, by filing in the first place.

“It appeared that Ms. Schulze did not like the conduct of the defendant’s tenants, and that the defendant would not concede to the applicant’s preferences regarding coverage management,” he said.

‘It should have been obvious to the applicant that the hedge did not obstruct the sunlight to the windows of her house or the views from her house.

“I recognize that the main concerns of the applicant were the obstructions that could occur if the hedge grows much larger in the future, but nonetheless, this application has wasted the time of the defendant and the Court, along with public resources.”