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14/04/2016

Scottish Greens commit to ‘radical’ programme of reform to deliver housing

Words: Laura Edgar

The Scottish Green Party has published its manifesto ahead of Scotland’s Parliamentary election in May, promising to campaign for a housing agenda and use empty homes and vacant land.

A Better Scotland Needs A Bolder Holyrood also states that Scotland can “provide affordable, accessible public transport” and that the party would campaign against fracking.

Housing

 

The manifesto outlines that Green MSPs plan to campaign for a “radical programme of reform designed to deliver thousands more good-quality, affordable, sustainable homes”.

With rents in Scotland “increasing faster” than many tenants can afford, the party promises to continue campaigning for rent controls across the country. The party also vows to fight to end tax reliefs, “which keep homes and land out of use”.

Scotland’s 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land “should be liable for non-domestic rates”. This, according to the manifesto, would raise £250 million a year for investment and encourage development on the land.

It states: “Our property tax would include no reduction for second or empty homes and help bring Scotland’s 27,000 empty homes back into use. “Using a property as a second home should require planning consent – this would boost the supply of housing in rural areas.”

Planning

 

The manifesto makes the commitment to support investment in public planning services, community-led development plans and extra safeguards to make sure people’s participation is “respected”.

Additionally, the party would “campaign for an equal right of appeal when development proposals don’t follow the agreed plan. This would remove a clear injustice in the system and promote plan-led development in the public interest”.

Social justice and environmental justice “must go hand in hand”, therefore the Scottish Green Party promises to push to integrate the principles of environmental justice into legislation, industry regulation, planning and land use.

The party also proposes the “repeal of provisions in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1959” and would push to give councils the power to buy land for housing at “existing use value”, where land is valued according to its current use rather than what it could be worth if another activity, such as house building, were to take place.

The manifesto states that cultural spaces – studios, arts venues – can come “under threat” from planning regulations. The party says it will work to “protect and encourage districts that enjoy strong cultural economies. We support a change in planning policy to ensure that these spaces are prioritised”.

Transport

 

The Scottish Green Party plans to increase the amount of funding going into active travel, from 2 per cent to 10 per cent.

According to the party, too many people are “underserved” by local bus routes and so it supports the “re-regulation of buses to stop companies “cherry-picking profitable routes and leaving some communities stranded”.

Green MSPs state they would campaign to bring the railway back into the hands of the public at the end of the current contract.

“Bringing railways back into public hands could reduce fares, improve links with other transport and ensure that the service is fully accessible to all,” explains the manifesto.

The party is also targeting the reopening of old routes, dualling the Highland mainline, switching from road to rail freight and securing faster journey times to London.

Energy

 

The party is committed to championing increased research and development for “strategically critical sectors”, such as liquid air energy storage and tidal steam, to enable a “smooth transition to a renewable energy future”.

Additionally, it is committed to increasing investment in domestic energy storage systems to allow those who generate renewable energy for their own homes, such as through solar panels, to balance variable generation levels with household demand.

Green MSPs say they would support the introduction of a bond to create capital to finance further development and expansion of renewable energy projects in Scotland and “resist” subsidy cuts.

“The UK Government has made significant cuts to subsidies for solar energy and reduced the feed-in-tariff rates across all renewable sources. Green MSPs will stand strong against further cuts to the UK Government’s renewable energy subsidies.”

Furthermore, the party would continue to “apply pressure” to see a permanent ban on fracking and other forms of unconventional fossil fuel extraction.


A Better Scotland Needs A Bolder Holyrood can be found here (pdf).

Image credit | Shuttershock

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