30 Jun 2011

Green MSP Alison Johnstone says free the commons!

It’s also time to take another look at Scotland’s Common Good assets, most of which are the legacies of the old Burghs. They do not belong to local authorities - they belong to local people - and I’ll be pressing the Scottish Government to bring in a full register of these assets and clear and simple legislation to protect them for their original purpose. The same process could define how new assets could be brought into Common Good. A poor version of the same work is underway at Westminster through the Tory Government’s localism agenda. Scotland can, of course, do better.

There are other creative uses of land which are either vulnerable, being squeezed, or being neglected at a policy level.

This month has seen the launch of the Thousand Huts campaign, which aims to promote the kind of hutting people may remember from the Carbeth case, and I’ve been working with Reforesting Scotland and others to build support for them in Parliament. Huts may seem wacky, but in the immediate post-war period in particular they provided affordable access to the countryside for a generation. Across northern Europe and Scandinavia the benefits of huts are widely recognised
- for physical and mental health, for happiness and recreation - yet here they remain a minority interest. It’s not hard to see why. Land is difficult to find, under-used and unaffordable. Planning permission is hard to secure, and many landowners regularly try to demolish existing huts and clear land.


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