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Scottish Greens call for levy on vacant and derelict land

Words: Roger Milne
Derelict and vacant land / iStock-518709582

Giving local councils the power to tax vacant and derelict land in Scotland could generate £200 million a year to build affordable homes and tackle the housing crisis, according to research by the Scottish Greens.

A report published this week (19 September) by Andy Wightman MSP revealed that nearly 13,000 hectares of land in communities across Scotland currently lies vacant and derelict, 69 per cent (9,000 hectares) of which could be developed.

There are almost 4,000 derelict sites in Scotland, including 782 in Glasgow, 487 in North Lanarkshire, 281 in North Ayrshire, 235 in South Lanarkshire and 223 in Fife.

In Edinburgh, where house prices are the highest of any Scottish city, there are 76 derelict sites with another 157 throughout east, west and Midlothian.

The report pointed out that Ireland is creating a vacant site levy, and local councils are due to levy charges next year.

Wightman, who represents Lothian in the Scottish Parliament and is the Greens’ housing and land reform spokesperson, pointed out: “Over half of Scotland's most deprived communities are within 500 metres of vacant and derelict land, so there is huge potential to develop and regenerate where it is most needed, and ease the pressure to build on green spaces valued by communities.

“The government, in rejecting bolder land reform legislation last year, promised to consult on the taxation of derelict and vacant land and I hope this paper brings that forward.”

He added: "There is growing political consensus in Scotland that we need big changes to tackle the housing crisis, so let’s not be timid when it comes to giving local councils the power to tax vacant and derelict land."

This Could Be Home: Making Use of Scotland’s Vacant and Derelict Land can be found on the Scottish Greens website (pdf).

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