Professor Antonia Layard’s blog post explores three stories of land secrecy in England: the land registry, beneficial ownership of land, and commercial confidentiality in affordable housing. An informative read reflecting how secrecy about land ownership and deals remain part of English land developments.
Ministers have recently revealed plans to classify fracking applications as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. This would mean decisions regarding fracking applications would be made by government-appointed planning inspectors at a national level, instead of decisions at a local authority levels, essentially bypassing local involvement in fracking applications.
The government is also making £1.6 million available for planning authorities, to assist with fracking applications. Under these regulations, the actual process of shale gas extraction would still need applications at local level, however exploratory drilling can be approved by government-appointed planning inspectors at national level.
Daniel Carey-Dawes, senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said in The Independent: “This announcement signals an outright assault on local communities’ ability to exercise their democratic rights in influencing fracking applications. Whilst fracking has been banned in Scotland, the government in England seems determined to introduce shale gas extraction, despite its unpopularity.
Friends of the Earth and Go Fossil Free are currently running divestment campaigns against the fossil fuel industry. Friends of the Earth report that local councils are investing up to £16bn of workers pensions into fossil fuel companies, and are encouraging people to lobby their local councils to divest from fossil fuel investments. Divestment campaigns are a successful way of putting pressure on governments through a public demand for action. Those done at a local level can empower communities in the fight against fossil fuel extraction, giving campaigners a platform through which to protest the government plans to restrict local community involvement in the application process.
Visit the Friends of the Earth divestment website for support and advice in starting a local campaign in your area.
IT specialists are investigating how Blockchain technology can be used to make the land registry in India more reliable and accountable. Blockchain technology allows information ‘to be distributed but not copied‘, creating platforms for sharing information that cannot be hacked.
The project, a collaboration between the Blockchain Learning Group and the United Nations Development Programme, is currently in the process of creating a land registry in the city Panchkula, in the state of Haryana. By creating accountable and accessible land registries, Blockchain technologies can provide transparent and secure information about land ownership in areas where there is otherwise limited knowledge about ownership, empowering citizens.
Blockchain is being viewed as a way to minimise corruption in the Land Registry not only in India but in western Europe too.
On Sunday 15th April we held our national gathering at the Friends of the Earth offices in London.
This was the day after our buzzing and well-attended tour of London’s housing crisis, organised as part of our Week of Action for Land Justice. Many people at the meeting had organised or taken part in the tour, and celebrated its success long into the evening… I think Nick Hayes summed up the feeling in the room when he said “I’m so happy and tired I think I’m going to cry!”
On Saturday 14th April, after a week of rain, on what felt like the first warm and sunny day of the year, just shy of a hundred people gathered in central London for the inaugural Land Justice Network Landlords’ Game guided walk.
In London, tenancies are short, disrepair is common, and rents are higher than almost anywhere in the world.
After just a few weeks of organising, London Renters Union members at Eros House flats in Catford took action to demand an end to evictions and for urgent safety and disrepair issues to be solved.
The steadfast residents of Eros House in Catford took action to demand an end to unsafe conditions and evictions in their homes. They delivered a letter, with lots of energy to Lewisham Council and one of the management companies that runs the tower block they live in. They were supported by LRU members and activists from Newham and across our city.
They’ve struggled with electrical hazards, serious damp and mould and faulty heating for too long – and some residents are facing eviction by the private company they rent from.
Amina and Michael, LRU
London Renters Union was set by a coalition including Radical Housing Network, Take Back The City, Generation Rent, Digs (Hackney Renters), and People’s Empowerment Alliance for Custom House (PEACH). They’re currently building their first pilot branch in Newham and hope to have branches across the city by the end of 2018.
You can show your support for LRU members at Eros House by sharing the report back from today’s action on Twitter or Facebook:
Hypothecation – I’d never hear about this before but it maybe of interest connected to issues around Land Value Tax and Land Uplift Capture or whatever else we are calling ways of preventing land speculators from profiteering these days…
The concept of hypothecation, where revenues from specific taxes would be ringfenced for a particular expenditure purpose – and publicly communicated in this way – has traditionally been unpopular with many. This is because of the notable challenges, relating to complexity, transparency, and public perceptions, with which it is associated. However, there is growing interest in how hypothecation could help engage with tax policy and increase public trust in the system.
Many people who call for a change in the way land is taxed also have called for the new tax income to be ring-fenced for using on connected issues. E.g. a land value tax going towards buying land for self build homes or re-commoning or supporting entrant farmers etc.
An Aberdeen community have used new community buyout powers to claim a piece of private land as their own, becoming the first in Northern Scotland to utilise the Urban Right to Buy scheme. The land, that was once a bowls club, will be used as a community market garden and cafe.