Land reclamation in Scotland slows

The pace of land reclamation in Scotland slowed further in 2008, according to a survey of vacant and derelict land by the Scottish Government.1

Just 564 hectares were returned to use last year, down from 638ha in 2007 and the annual average of 608ha seen since 2002. Moreover, the total stock of such sites remains high, at 10,832ha.

The slow pace of Scottish land reclamation has been evident for some time (ENDS Report 374, p 16 ). The longer term trend reveals a 1% increase in vacant and derelict land since 2002, as reclamation efforts have been offset by other sites falling into disuse.

The recession and increasing funding difficulties mean the trend is likely to continue. Almost two thirds (63%) of the funding for bringing land in Scotland back into use last year was from the private sector and the credit crunch is sure to constrain activity this year.

The survey differentiates between ‘urban vacant’ and ‘derelict’ land. The former refers to "land which is unused for the purposes for which it is held and is viewed as an appropriate site for development". Derelict land is classed as that which "has been so damaged by development, that it is incapable of development for beneficial use without rehabilitation".

The 564ha reclaimed since the 2007 survey comprised 438 sites, 273 of which were urban vacant and 165 derelict.

Scotland’s stock of vacant and derelict land reflects its industrial history. Lanarkshire and Glasgow have many sites that have been the focus of much reclamation over the past year. Glasgow alone accounted for 97 of the 438 sites brought back into use in 2008, totalling 76ha. Despite the expected slowdown, the city will remain a key focus.

A large amount of activity in Glasgow this year will be accounted for by the completion of work on a 22ha site in Bishopbriggs. The site, a former Shell fuel storage depot, has been derelict since 1995. IKM Consulting is nearing the end of an 18-month remediation programme paving the way for redevelopment. The project, described as one of the largest of its type in Scotland, included on-site bioremediation of 44,000 cubic metres of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil.

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