5 June, 2013 - 15:58

Scottish Greens are urging ministers to be bolder on land reform, and look at measures including land value tax.

The interim report of the Land Reform Review Group set up by the Scottish Government has been criticised for failing to tackle issues such as tax avoidance and absentee landlords.

Two members of the group - Jim Hunter and Sarah Skerratt - resigned, with Dr Hunter accusing the Scottish Government of doing "absolutely nothing" about the "most unreformed and undemocratic land ownership system in the entire developed world.”

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said:

"This is a crucial issue which is in danger of disappearing from the government's radar. The wealthy individuals and companies that own land in Scotland are doing their best to close down debate.

"Jim Hunter's right - we continue to have a shockingly bad system of land ownership that concentrates wealth and stifles aspiration. There's growing enthusiasm for land-based taxation, which Greens have long advocated. This could reduce the kind of speculation and profit that harms our communities, and it is an option SNP ministers could look at right now.

"SNP ministers like to aspire to Scandanavian countries, so I hope they take note of the fact that local authorities in Denmark levy a land tax that applies to land owned by Danes abroad. It's frankly embarrassing that acres of land in Scotland are generating funds for public services overseas while here at home we face cuts."

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