Councils unearth plan to ease allotment shortage
Using landfill tax proceeds to buy derelict land for allotments could ease a chronic plots shortage, local councils say.
The Local Government Association (LGA) says this could be a way to meet growing demand for land as allotment waiting lists top ten years.
Councillor Gary Porter, LGA environment board chairman, said: "There has been a huge upsurge in recent years in the number of people wanting an allotment. Young families across the country are rolling up their sleeves, pulling on their wellington boots and picking up a shovel.
"Allotments are a fantastic way of understanding where food comes from and of having a go at growing your own. Nowadays allotments are the preserve of Jamie Oliver as much as Arthur Fowler.
"Urgent action must be taken to meet this growing demand and allowing councils to use money raised from landfill tax to bring derelict land and empty spaces back into use would help meet this demand as well as improving the appearance of local areas."
The Landfill Communities Fund, paid for through Landfill Tax, pays for social and environmental schemes in areas near rubbish dumps.
But, this pool of cash cannot be spent on allotments under the current system.
Now, the LGA is calling for a change in the rules to allow some of the fund to help people to set up allotments on disused land.
This would help ease a shortage of plots and lengthy waiting lists, it says. Some 200,000 allotments have been lost in the last thirty years, totalling over eleven square miles, an area 15 times the size of Hyde Park, it is estimated.
But demand has risen in recent years as allotments prove popular with environmentally-aware young professionals keen to grow their own organic food.
Waiting lists in some areas of the country stand at ten years.