Knowledge for better food systems

Land for the many

This report, commissioned by the UK’s Labour Party, proposes major reforms in land governance in the UK including the establishment of a Common Ground Trust (see below). FCRN readers may be particularly interested in the report’s recommendations surrounding agriculture and farmland.

Some of the main policy proposals of the report are:

  • Set an explicit goal to stabilise house and land prices, allowing the ratio of housing costs to income to gradually fall as wages increase.
  • Establish a Common Ground Trust. This would be a non-profit institution that would, on request from prospective homebuyers, purchase the land underneath homes. The homebuyers would buy only the “bricks and mortar”, which is generally only 30% of the cost of a house, and instead of buying the land underneath the house would pay land rent to the Common Ground Trust.
  • Replace council tax with a property tax paid by owners, not tenants, with a higher rate on second homes and empty homes.
  • Make it easier for councils to create new urban parks and green spaces.
  • Update planning guidance to encourage the use of Green Belt land for allotments and community food growing projects.
  • Encourage Community Land Trusts to bring rural land into public ownership, to be used for farming, forestry, conservation, rewilding or the protection of catchments. This would be funded by some of the surplus accumulated by the Land Registry.
  • Examine whether the planning system should be extended to cover major forestry and farming decisions.
  • Introduce a Right to Roam across all uncultivated land and water in the UK (extending the existing Right to Roam in Scotland).

Read the full report, Land for the Many: Changing the way our fundamental asset is used, owned and governed, here. See also lead author George Monbiot’s column in the Guardian: Want to tackle inequality? Then first change our land ownership laws. See also the Foodsource building block What is land use and land use change?

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Europe

Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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