A Scottish Government inquiry made by South Scotland SNP MSP, Emma Harper, into the 2020 Scottish Land Commission Report regarding derelict and vacant land, has heard that £50m is being invested into a new programme of support for regeneration.

Ms Harper contacted the Scottish Government, following the publishing of the Scottish Land Commission Report into derelict and vacant land, to ask which of the recommendations it will implement, and what the timescales for implementation are.

The Scottish Government confirmed a new £50m low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme will create new green infrastructure, support place-based approaches to regeneration and a just transition to net zero.

Ms Harper raised the inquiry by written question to the Scottish Government last month, following the MSP’s investigation and visits to the former Interfloor site at Heathhall, as well as several other derelict building and vacant land sites across the region – including the repeater station in Stranraer and Mercury Motor in Moffat.

Many derelict buildings have been abandoned for long periods of time and have consequently fallen into disrepair, becoming potential hazards to nearby communities. In June of this year the Interfloor factory in Heathhall went on fire bringing emergency services to the scene and releasing toxic fumes across the neighbourhood.

Ms Harper has also contacted the Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, Andrew Thin, arranging a meeting this week, to discuss the fact that a number of sites across Dumfries and Galloway are not included in the Derelict Land Register following the Scottish Land Commission’s report – Transforming Scotland’s Approach to Vacant and Derelict Land – produced last October. They are also not included in the interactive map function on the Scottish Land Commission’s website.

Ms Harper commented;

“I received a response from the Scottish Government on Thursday which gives a commitment to exploring opportunities to target long-term vacant and derelict land to deliver sustainable inclusive growth and mitigate climate change as part of the Green Recovery.

“Following the publishing of the Vacant and Derelict Land Taskforce’s report and recommendations last October, the Scottish Government have been working with the Scottish Land Commission and key stakeholders to develop detailed proposals to help deliver a culture change in Scotland’s approach to vacant and derelict land.

“A key recommendation was the establishment of a national programme of investment to bring government legacy of vacant and derelict land back into use in ways that will contribute to a fair and green recovery, support job creation and skills development and help rebuild community resilience.

“In response to that recommendation, in March 2021, I’m delighted to hear the Scottish Government have opened a new £50m low carbon Vacant and Derelict Land Investment Programme, which is being delivered over an initial five year period. It will help to open up for new use persistent vacant and derelict sites, which are especially prevalent in disadvantaged areas. This will create opportunities for new green infrastructure, and support place-based approaches to regeneration and a just transition to net zero.

“I also look forward to my discussion this week with Andrew Thin, Chair of the Scottish Land Commission, to raise issues over the identification of derelict sites and vacant land in our region.”