Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Up to nine-year wait for allotments

Thousands of people who want to grow their own food face a wait of up to nine years for an allotment, research by the Scottish Greens shows.

Thousands of people who want to grow their own food face a wait of up to nine years for an allotment, research by the Scottish Greens shows.

In Edinburgh there are 2,773 people on the local authority allotment waiting list, each with a predicted wait of four to nine years.

The number of residents waiting for a council allotment in Aberdeen is 279. They will have to hold on for between one and three years for a plot, rising to between four and seven years for some, the party said.

In Dundee 340 people are on the waiting list for a local authority allotment.

The figures were disclosed in response to freedom of information requests by Green MSP Alison Johnstone to local authorities covering Scotland's seven cities.

Glasgow City Council said it does not have its own waiting lists and Highland Council did not respond to the request, the party said.

Perth and Kinross Council replied that it does not have any allotments and Stirling Council has only one site which has no waiting list.

Ms Johnstone, MSP for Lothian and food spokeswoman for the Greens, also highlighted official statistics showing that almost a third (30.9%) of Scotland's population lived within 500 metres of a derelict site last year.

"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," she said.

"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."

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Growing your own food is continuing to grow in popularity and allotments provide a range of benefits such as an opportunity to learn new skills, an understanding of where our food comes from and better health.

"We consulted earlier this year on plans to simplify Scotland's allotment rules, including using unused and underused assets. We are currently considering what changes could be made to the existing legislation and will set out our proposals in the coming weeks."

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