Greenpeace, The Waiting List, and Ireland’s Local AuthoritiesPosted on: 05/11/2023
Last month, Greenpeace published a brilliant video which demonstrated the amount of people on a waiting list for an allotment in the UK. Over 174,000 people are on a waiting list for an allotment in the UK, which is just under the population of the cities Limerick and Galway combined.
For England, there is a legal duty on local authorities to provide allotments if 6 people register their interest, which has been in place for about 100 years. The actual implementation of this is what some local communities have found challenging, but there remains a clear duty on local authorities and a process for local communities to follow. Scotland and Wales have also recently updated their legislation to make it easier for communities to access land for community growing purposes.
For Ireland, it’s important to understand the differences in law. Ireland doesn’t have a requirement for local authorities to keep a waiting list. Ireland doesn’t have a duty on local authorities to provide allotments or community gardens. Community gardens are not mentioned in law at all (but a recent private members bill has sought to change that).
There are only two main mentions of allotments in law in Ireland – that is, the 2001 Local Government Act which says that local authorities may provide allotments, and the 2010 Planning and Development Act, which requires local authorities to reserve land for allotments in their county development plans.
Poor legislation and policies has led to Ireland providing one of the lowest numbers of allotments and community gardens per country (or per capita) in Europe.
The summary is that allotments and community gardens are not protected in law in Ireland, and there is no onus on local authorities to provide them. This needs to change.
Community Gardens Ireland have made countless proposals to the Irish Government to introduce a waiting list system in Ireland, along with other changes to make it easier for communities to get access to land to grow their own food. See here, here, here, here, and here!
Why are we still waiting for a waiting list?
Some local authorities have provided them before in some fashion – for example, an article in 2021 reported that the waiting list for South Dublin County Council allotments was about 10 years. Dún Laoighaire Rathdown County Council have closed their waiting list as there is too much demand as they say on their website: “We are not accepting applications currently, as there is an extensive waiting list for both locations, Goatstown and Shankill”. According to research performed by Community Gardens in 2022, nearly 89% of local authorities simply don’t provide a waiting list.
Community Gardens Ireland believe that to show demand for community growing spaces in local areas, that a waiting list system has to be introduced.
Along with requiring a duty to be put on local authorities to provide allotments and community gardens, a waiting list needs to be introduced so that future demand for use of land locally can be planned, which will be of benefit to both local communities and local authorities.
More details of our requests for systematic changes including waiting list proposals are contained in our Let’s Get Growing report from March 2022.
If you have a question on any of the above, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Top of the City Community Garden, Waterford City