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Greens to 'unlock' land ownership for local communities

The party wants to see greater transparency around land ownership and communities given more say.

Land pledge: Patrick Harvie wants to help empower communities.

Communities should have more say over the use of local land, the Scottish Greens have said.

On the campaign trail in Glasgow on Thursday, co-convener Patrick Harvie and the Greens’ land reform spokesperson Andy Wightman promised to give locals more power over how land is owned and operated.

The Greens’ manifesto pledges to give “people the same rights as developers in planning decisions”, as well as to introduce a transparent register of land ownership and push for a land value tax.

Harvie and Wightman visited North Kelvin Meadow, where nearby residents have opposed plans to develop on the green space. Later they also stopped off at Cassiltoun Housing Association in Castlemilk, a community ownership housing cooperative, to talk with management about the work they do.

Patrick Harvie said: “North Kelvin Meadow and Cassiltoun Housing Association both show what can be achieved when communities get together, and transform once-derelict spaces into vibrant community resources.

“In the case of North Kelvin Meadow we see what is at risk when the wishes of a community get arbitrarily overruled by commercial interests. In the case of Cassiltoun Housing Association, we see the potential of what communities can achieve. ”

Wightman added: “With more Green MSPs we can democratise and bring greater transparency to Scotland’s land laws so that land is used in the public interest and for the common good.”

A spokesperson for the SNP pointed to the “radical and groundbreaking” Community Empowerment Act they had introduced in government, adding: “We also took the latest step on Scotland’s land reform journey, with the passage of new and radical land reform legislation in the last parliament. We will set out further plans to empower communities and democratise land ownership in our manifesto.”

Murdo Fraser of the Scottish Conservatives said “a balanced approach” needed to be taken around land issues, “recognising that land use is more important than land ownership.”

He added: “What rural Scotland needs are measures to improve the economy, protect local services, enhance connectivity, for example; broadband, rather than more land reform which is likely to deter much-needed investment.”

Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats have been approached for comment.

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