MORAY COUNCIL HAS the power to tax around 24 football pitches worth of vacant and derelict land and generate over £300,000 each year to invest in affordable homes.
That is the conclusion being reached by the Scottish Greens this week from a new report that looks at methods of tackling the housing crisis in Moray and throughout Scotland.
Green MSPs attempted in January 2016 to amend the Land Reform Bill to allow almost 13,000 hectares of vacant and derelict land in communities across Scotland to be brought into the non-domestic rates system.
However, that was rejected by the Scottish Government who at the time said they would consult on the proposal – but they have not yet done so.
The Scottish Greens report shows that over 14 hectares of land in Moray is classed as developable, and could bring in £330,000 which could be invested in public services, such as social housing.
Ireland has recently created a vacant site levy, with local councils set to levy charges from next year.
Green MSP for Highlands and Islands including Moray, John Finnie, said: “Over half of Scotland’s most deprived communities are within 500 metres of vacant and derelict land – so there is huge potential to develop and regenerate where it is needed, and ease the pressure to build on green spaces so highly valued by communities.
“The Scottish Government, in rejecting bolder land reform legislation last year promised to consult on the taxation of derelict and vacant land and I hope this report brings that process forward.
“Given the lack of affordable housing and Moray Council’s continuing financial pressures affecting public services, it’s unacceptable that landowners can profit from withholding land suitable for housing.
“There is growing political consensus in Scotland that we need big changes to tackle the housing crisis, so let’s not be timid when it comes to giving local councils the power to tax vacant and derelict land.”