Research by the Scottish Greens has revealed a mounting crisis for the increasingly popular idea of growing your own food.
The research reveals two key issues.
Firstly, Freedom of Information requests by Green MSP Alison Johnstone show thousands of people on allotment lists face waits of up to 9 years to get a plot.
Secondly, some local authorities are opposing the idea of timescales and targets for providing allotments. Existing legislation says councils should provide allotments but doesn’t specify any timescale, resulting in huge waiting lists.
These discoveries come despite statistics showing a third of Scotland’s population lives within 500 metres of vacant land.
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and food spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, said:
“These figures suggest Scotland needs Right to Grow legislation in the same way we have seen community groups being given the right to buy land that comes up for sale. I will be looking for opportunities in the forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill to give control to the increasing numbers of people looking to grow their own food, because the demand is there, the land is there and the benefits are obvious.”
Freedom of Information (FoI) requests by Alison Johnstone MSP to local authorities covering Scotland’s seven cities resulted in the following responses:
Aberdeen said the number of people on its waiting list is 279 with a predicted wait of 1 to 3 years, although some can wait between 4 and 7 years.
Dundee said it has 340 people on its waiting list.
Edinburgh said it has 2,773 people on its waiting list, each facing a wait of 4-9 years.
Glasgow said it does not have its own waiting lists.
Highland Council, which covers Inverness, did not respond.
Perth & Kinross Council said it does not have any allotments.
Stirling said it only administers 1 allotment site, with no waiting list and that it has no plans to increase allotment spaces itself but will assist community groups undertaking growing initiatives.
The latest survey shows there are 10,984 hectares of derelict/vacant land across Scotland. 30.9 per cent of Scotland‟s population lives within 500 metres of a derelict site.
In their responses to the Scottish Government’s consultation on the proposed Community Empowerment Bill there were conflicting views from local authorities on the need to improve existing legislation which places a duty on councils to provide allotments but does not state a timescale.
For example, Dundee City Council said: “No local issues have been identified regarding legislation.”
Perth & Kinross Council said: “The onus should be on the community to develop their own allotments but with the assistance and support of the Local Authority.”
East Lothian Council, where some people have been waiting for 8 years, said there should not be a specific timescale for allotment provision or specific number per head of population.
West Lothian said it was not aware of a requirement to change existing legislation and stressed that temporary allotment sites should not inhibit development.