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Why we need to talk about common good land use

Tom Kenny

Launching our new video on ‘Common Good Land Use’, we explain why talking about land in terms of the ‘common good’ is crucial to making land work for everyone.

In 2014, the Scottish Government commissioned a report on “The Land of Scotland and the Common Good.” This report and its remit affirmed that land should be managed in the public interest – for the common good. This included:

  • Acknowledging that land is a finite resource, “fundamental to the wellbeing, economic success, environmental sustainability and social justice of the country.”
  • Setting the goal of land use as promoting “the common good of the people of Scotland”. Otherwise described as “promoting the wellbeing of all the people.”
  • Exploring “how the arrangements governing the possession and use of land facilitate or inhibit progress towards achieving a Scotland which is economically successful, socially just and environmentally sustainable.”

These kind of statements don’t sound radical – in fact as Andy Wightman pointed out, they are actually just ‘plain common sense’.

Explicitly recognising that land use should benefit everyone was crucial to embarking on a reform process that has brought Scottish land use closer to that goal. Learning from Scotland, we think it is crucial to frame the debate about land in England in the same language.

That is why we’re trying to start a conversation about common good land use. Too often in England people either view land as something to be exploited for profit or conserved. Farm land has become an investment asset, tripling in value in 10 years. In attempting to protect our landscapes, planning policy can make setting up land-based social enterprises unaffordable to those without pre-existing wealth. We need to see land as a productive resource – one which can deliver shared economic, environmental and social benefits for everyone.

Our new video introduces our view on what common good land use is. We want you to watch it and think about two things:

  • What do you think common good land use is?
  • What needs to happen to get us there?

We are inviting everyone to contribute to this discussion – use the hashtag #CommonGoodLand to share your thoughts, pictures, links or anything else.

‘Common good land use’ is also the topic of our upcoming conference on December 8th. We’re bringing together guests from a range of different fields and expertises, to talk about what common good land use is, and how we can achieve it. Tickets are sold out now, but you can sign up for the waiting list, or follow the event on the #CommonGoodLand hashtag.

Only when we set a vision for what we want land to be can we figure out how to get there. We want to get people talking about a vision for common good land use. Then we can make it a reality, and make land work for everyone.

Thanks to Mair Perkins for the animation work.

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