Scottish Land Commission and SEPA launch taskforce to tackle derelict land

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 21 September 2018 in News

Two bodies signed a Sustainable Growth Agreement to support local authorities in stimulating long term regeneration and renewal

Image credit: Neil Williamson

The Scottish Land Commission and SEPA have teamed up to launch a new taskforce aimed at bringing thousands of acres of derelict and vacant land back into productive use.

With nearly 12,000 hectares of land in Scotland lying vacant or derelict, the two bodies signed a Sustainable Growth Agreement to support local authorities in stimulating long term regeneration and renewal.

Chaired by Scottish Enterprise chief executive Steve Dunlop, a new taskforce will also identify the causes and consequences of long-term land vacancy and dereliction, with the aim of halving the amount of derelict land in Scotland by 2025.

The Land Commission, the non-departmental public body tasked with reviewing land reform, said that doing so would help unlock growth, revive communities, increase community empowerment and reduce inequalities.

Cabinet Secretary for Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham said: “Scotland has far too much unused, unproductive land. As the Programme for Government makes clear, land can play a major role in creating high-quality places that support Scotland’s health, wellbeing and prosperity.

“The Scottish Government fully support the Scottish Land Commission and SEPA in investigating how this land could be better utilised by communities across the country, and I am keen to see an ambitious and innovative approach to this stubborn problem.

“The ‘unlocking’ of vacant and derelict land touches on a number of important strands of work, including planning and regeneration.  It is also another key strand of our ambitious land reform agenda, which includes a recent commitment to continue our £10 million annual funding of the Scottish Land Fund, the creation of a register of controlling interests in land, and we’re exploring the expansion of existing Community Right to Buy mechanisms.” 

The initiative also includes plans to develop a 10 year strategy for eradicating the derelict land, setting ambitious targets supported at a local and national level.

Taskforce chair Steve Dunlop said that around three in five people in disadvantaged areas of Scotland live within 500 metres of a vacant or derelict site. 

He said: “The taskforce will help drive practical action and look for innovative ways to make productive use of vacant and derelict land for housing, commercial and green space uses.

”Rejuvenating vacant and derelict land brings about long term regeneration and renewal - unlocking growth, reviving communities, increasing community empowerment, reducing inequalities and inspiring local pride and activities”

Chief Executive of the Scottish Land Commission, Hamish Trench, said: “The partnership with SEPA and the creation of the Taskforce is a catalyst for change from across the sectors in our approach to vacant and derelict land. We want to identify what can be done with policy, legislation and action to release this land to benefit the communities living in and around it, making more of Scotland’s land do more for Scotland’s people.

“As part of that we, along with the taskforce, are looking at tools and mechanisms to address the problem of vacant and derelict land with scope for far more innovation in finding ways to bring the land back into productive use.

“There are already some inspiring – recent – examples of what can be achieved in our cities and we want to encourage more of these approaches.”

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