1. Executive Summary
The Scottish Government considers that growing your own food, on an allotment or through other means, has the potential to contribute to improving our environment, our health and well-being, as well as offering a means to gain access to affordable, healthy and sustainable food.
The legislative framework for allotments is complex and dated. Part 9 of the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 relates to allotments but requires secondary legislation to be made before relevant provisions can be brought into force.
The Scottish Government published a consultation paper on 20 August 2015 to seek views on the secondary legislation required with responses invited by 16 October 2015. The document requested views on three areas: compensation for disturbance; compensation for deterioration of allotment; and compensation for loss of crops.
In total, 23 responses to the consultation were received from a variety of respondents including local government, local allotment groups, representative bodies and individuals. A summary of the written responses follows. It should be noted, that the opinions presented are those of the 23 respondents to this consultation and do not necessarily represent the views of the wider population.
Compensation for disturbance
All but one of the respondents who addressed the issue considered that factors other than rent might be included in determining the amount of compensation payable to tenants for disturbance.
The most common factors identified over and above rent was loss of enhancements made by the tenant to the plot and recompense for amenities left behind, or the cost of relocating these where this is possible.
Other common views were that the level of compensation payable should reflect the worth of crops and plants of particular value; and that the length of tenure should be taken into account in determining the amount of compensation to be paid.
The most common recommendation for determining the value of compensation was the cost of replacing old for new, at least where structures were concerned.
There were mixed views on the timeframe for payment of compensation, with recommendations ranging from payment before lease ends to payment within one year of the termination of lease.
A recurring view was that where a tenant has neglected a plot to the extent that it is an extreme state of disrepair and/or where the tenancy has been breached, then local authorities should not be liable to pay compensation for disturbance.
Compensation for deterioration of allotment
A common view was that compensation by tenants to local authorities for deterioration of plot should be considered only where the fault for deterioration lies clearly with the plot-holder and is within their control. Deterioration of plots for reasons such as ill-health of tenant or an adverse conditions were perceived as outwith the plot-holders' control.
Requests were made for the definition of "deterioration" to be clarified.
The main factors which respondents recommended be taken into account when determining the cost of taking remedial action were: the costs of remediating the land to cultivatable condition; and/or the cost of returning the land to the condition it was in at the start of the lease.
Respondents' views on the timeframe for compensation to be paid by a tenant ranged largely from 30 days to three months.
Compensation for loss of crops
An overarching theme was that establishing a monetary value of compensation payable to tenants if the tenancy is terminated by the lessor appears incongruous given that finance is only one aspect of the investment put into their plot by allotment holders.
It was felt that compensation should encompass what was perceived to be the broader investment of time and effort made by tenants, and also the loss of the positive impacts which tending the plot has had on their wellbeing.
A recurring view was that rather than focusing entirely on monetary compensation, other forms of recompense should be considered, such as support in moving crops and structures to a new site.
Respondents' views on the timeframe for compensation to be paid to a tenant for loss of crops ranged largely from six weeks to one year.
Whereas some respondents considered there to be no circumstances in which a local authority should not be liable to pay compensation for loss of crops, others identified circumstances under which they felt this may not be appropriate, for example, if the tenant has grown illegal substances or neglected their plot.
Email: Robin MacLean