Columnist Ruth Wishart reflects on the news that a Helensburgh resident's bid to have a neighbour's hedge cut down has been rejected by the Scottish Government - and suggests that few things are more likely to spark a dispute between neighbours than the height of a garden hedge...

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The first thing people seek to do when they get a bit of land or garden to their name is fence it in.

It’s theirs, all theirs. And sometime down the line, if these fences take the shape of hedging, wars with the neighbours loom.

Most especially where the hedge funders have carelessly selected Leylandii, which grows like stink and has an unrivalled capacity to block out sunlight and engender hostility with them next door. You know, the folks sitting forlornly round a light box to fend off seasonal affective disorder.

Another 10 million of these ambitious trees, and we’ll have one for every man, woman and child in the UK. No kidding: there are an estimated 55 million already reaching for the skies, and 300,000 more get shifted every year.

Whereupon they’re stuck along the perimeters of properties, and promptly set about trebling their initial height.

But actually, any bank of tall trees, or any chunk of high rise fencing, is liable to turn the gentlest of souls on the other side into would-be mad axemen.

We have yet another tall tale of tree wars in this week’s Advertiser where a resident, having failed to get Argyll and Bute Council to rule on a maximum height for his neighbour’s hedging, did not throw in the towel. No sirree. He took his fight to the Scottish Government where, sadly, his plea fell on similarly deaf ears.

You might think with all that ails the world at the moment, you would want to rattle the government’s cage on an issue of rather more moment. But that would be to underestimate the unparalleled ability of inappropriate land dividers to get up people’s noses and cause them to lie awake at 3am plotting blood-stained revenge.

This masterplan they only abandon at first light when more rational considerations intrude. Can you really loathe anyone enough to think it worth spending five years in the nick for seeing them off?

Domestic border disputes are rivalled only by neighbours specialising in noise pollution. In a previous incarnation, the bedroom in our top floor flat was next to the living area in the one next door. In quick succession we had neighbours who had midnight shouting wars, and then a guy who worked in a casino. He came in around 4am and promptly put on his music centre at full blast.

When I remonstrated, he said: didn’t I want ever to put on music when I got in from work?

Finally we got two blokes whose night time entertainment was to punch each other’s lights out. Eventually, having fruitlessly banged on the adjoining wall, I called in the polis.

They visited next door, and came back to say the neighbours were upset because they couldn’t sleep for someone banging on the wall...