Bill amended to protect standard size of an allotment

Bill amended to protect standard size of an allotment

A last-minute amendment to the Scottish government’s Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill has given statutory protection to the standard size of an allotment.

Members of the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) celebrated as the government confirmed it would defend the standard plot size of 250 square metres (or 820 square foot).

The group thanked the government for “supporting legislation that recognises the importance of allotments in the modern world”.

There were concerns that allotments could be down-sized by councils looking to reduce their waiting lists under the new law, but a series of changes to the flagship legislation mean smaller plots will only be offered to those who ask for them.

Councils will also have to consult Scottish government ministers before closing an existing allotment site.

The measures will give more legal protection to allotments in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK, campaigners say.

A statement from SAGS says it “reverses the previous position which has resulted in nearly 90% of Scotland’s allotments disappearing since the Second world War, compared with only about half in the rest of the UK”.

Mark Thirgood from SAGS told The Herald: “We have come a long way, and the revised bill recognises the unique nature of Scotland’s allotments and the contribution they make to food policy, health and wellbeing, social justice, CO2 emissions reduction and enhancing the natural environment.

“It should serve Scotland’s allotment community well going forward.”

The legislation will oblige local authorities to “take reasonable steps” to increase the amount of land available for allotments if the waiting list exceeds a certain length.

If anyone on the waiting list faces a five-year wait or the number of people on the waiting list exceeds the council’s capacity by more than 50 per cent, the council will have to look into allocating more land to allotment sites.

The amended bill was passed yesterday by 101 votes with 15 abstentions.

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