GREEDY landowners in Scotland are clinging on to hundreds of derelict and empty sites which could be used to solve the country’s housing crisis, the Scottish Greens said yesterday.
The party is calling on the Scottish government to introduce a tax on empty sites that they argue could raise up to £200 million to build much-needed social housing.
In Scotland alone the equivalent of 20,000 football pitches of land is lying either vacant or derelict in areas desperately in need of more homes, the Greens said.
Last year their MSPs tried to amend the Scottish Parliament’s Land Reform Bill so that thousands of acres of land could be taxed.
The SNP blocked the proposal but said it would consider it. Since then nothing has happened.
The Greens said there are almost 4,000 derelict sites in Scotland, including 782 in Glasgow, 487 in North Lanarkshire, 281 in North Ayrshire, 235 in South Lanarkshire and 223 in Fife.
In Edinburgh, where house prices are the highest of any Scottish city, there are 76 derelict sites, with a further 157 throughout East, West and Midlothian.
Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay told the Star: “Land value tax is a very interesting proposal.
“The ‘banking’ of land by big companies is a tactic they use to try to control the land in their favour.
“We should consider all options to increase the number of homes, especially social housing, that we build, and the land value tax must be part of that consideration.”
Ireland recently created a vacant site levy, with local councils due to levy charges next year.