This report covers only some of the necessary ground. There is plenty more work to be done to ensure that land in the United Kingdom serves the many, not just the few. Here is a selection of the issues we have not attempted to resolve, but that will require further work and discussion:
- Strengthening the planning system to ensure it delivers zero-carbon development;
- Changing land use practices to enhance biological diversity and abundance;
- Changing land use practices to enhance the potential for natural carbon storage;
- Changing land use practices to enhance flood prevention;
- Improving the rights and security of tenant farmers;
- Reviewing the new farm payments system, to diversify ownership and tenure and restore wildlife and ecosystems;
- Further exploring the interaction between the ownership and use of land and the UK’s food security;
- Extending transparency regulations to give citizens more oversight of sales of public land and housing assets;
- Investigating the issue of mineral rights and other covenants on land, held by outside parties;
- Reversing the criminalisation of trespass and squatting, which were formerly civil offences;
- Investigating the best means of mitigating and managing the risk of negative equity, given the vulnerability of land prices to sudden change;
- A detailed legal report into the necessary overhaul of land law, in order to enable the changes we envisage, without destroying the integrity or coherence of the rest of English and Welsh land law.
The authors of this report, separately or together, intend to continue work on these topics in other forums. We are not alone. The last few years have seen an explosion of interest in the political economy of land in the UK. The Scottish land reform movement is one of many influences, inspiring a rapidly growing awareness of the importance of issues of the kind we cover here. If, as we recommend, Land Commissions are established in the three nations of the United Kingdom that do not yet possess them (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), we hope that they will continue to expand the scope of these investigations, and fill some of the gaps we have left.
By addressing the crucial yet neglected issues we have identified in this report, we can help to build a nation whose wealth is used for the good of all. By recognising the underlying causes of inequality, exclusion and environmental destruction, and answering them with the positive measures we have proposed, we can attend to some of Britain’s perennial dysfunctions. Land is the platform on which all prosperity and wellbeing is built. It should be used for the many, not just the few.Next: Acknowledgements »