Money raised from dumping rubbish in the ground could help a nation of budding Jamie Olivers to grow their own food say the LGA
Council leaders are calling on the Government to make available some of the money raised through landfill tax for people to set up allotments on disused land.
At the moment the Landfill Communities Fund, which allocates some of the funds collected through landfill taxes, is unable to give grants to help restore or set up new allotments.
The Local Government Association, which represents over 350 councils in England and Wales, wants allotments to be eligible for grants from the fund. Councils could then use this money to develop places for local people to grow fruit and vegetables. This would help to alleviate the chronic shortage of plots and spiralling allotment waiting lists.
It is estimated that 200,000 allotments have been lost in the last thirty years, totalling over eleven square miles, an area 15 times the size of Hyde Park.
However, the last few years has seen a rise in demand, with allotments proving particularly popular with environmentally-aware young professionals keen to grow their own organic food. This has led to waiting lists of up to 10 years in some parts of the country.
Cllr Gary Porter, Chairman of the LGA Environment Board, said:
“There has been a huge upsurge in recent years in the number of people wanting an allotment. Young families across the country are rolling up their sleeves, pulling on their wellington boots and picking up a shovel.
“Allotments are a fantastic way of understanding where food comes from and of having a go at growing your own. Nowadays allotments are the preserve of Jamie Oliver as much as Arthur Fowler.
“Urgent action must be taken to meet this growing demand and allowing councils to use money raised from landfill tax to bring derelict land and empty spaces back into use would help meet this demand as well as improving the appearance of local areas.
“There is a whole range of benefits from allotments, from getting out in the fresh air and getting some exercise to growing you own organic food and saving on the shopping bills. At a time when childhood obesity is on the up, organic products are becoming ever more popular and the price of food is rising, making it easier for people to get hold of an allotment makes perfect sense.”