LAND REFORM: GREEN AMENDMENTS TO BILL WOULD BOOST HOUSEBUILDING
The amendments include a requirement to bring Scotland's 11,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land into the valuation system so it can be taxed, with the resulting revenue ring fenced for housebuilding. Analysis by the Scottish Greens suggests that the move could yield around £300million a year.
The Scottish Greens also want to stop any land ownership in Scotland by companies and trusts not based in the EU, in an effort to stop tax avoidance. The Scottish Government has so far resisted the idea, despite recommendations from Holyrood's Economy Committee, the Land Reform Review Group and clear support in public consultation.
The amendment on EU registration is due to be heard and voted on by the parliament's Rural Affairs Committee this coming Wednesday (20 Jan), with the vacant land amendment due later in the month.
The Scottish Greens, who have consistently called for bold action to make land ownership clearer and fairer, have launched an online petition at https://www.scottishgreens.org.uk/this-could-be-home/ so that the public can back the bid to amend the Bill to include vacant land. Supporters on social media are encouraged to highlight vacant land near them, using the hashtag #thiscouldbehome.
Andy Wightman, Land Reform spokesperson for the Scottish Greens and MSP candidate for Lothian, said:
"There's a housing crisis in Scotland and many of us will know of a piece of derelict land near us that could be home. It's not right that wealthy developers who hold on to land that could be used for houses aren't required to pay any tax on it. This blockage pushes up the cost of land elsewhere, pushing house prices and rents out of the reach of many.
"Over half of Scotland's most deprived communities are within 500 metres of vacant and derelict land, so the opportunity to tackle inequality using the Land Reform Bill is clear. By amending the Bill, Scotland can tax owners of derelict land, encourage productive use of that land, and bring in much-needed revenue for housebuilding. Scotland can unlock the huge potential in our land but we need Holyrood to be bold."
On the amendment to require EU registration, Andy said:
"Improving transparency is vital to understanding who benefits from our land. The government’s refusal to include an EU registration clause in the Bill is deeply disappointing.
“Our amendment would put a stop to all further landownership by secretive companies in tax havens. By confining ownership to EU-registered companies we can ensure that moves being made in Europe to tackle laundering and secrecy are much more effective since, to date, many secrecy jurisdictions have refused to co-operate. That has to be better than the status quo.”