Industry body in call for action over empty homes

© Shutterstock
Lerwick, Shetland

Revenue from licensing fish farms could be used to help tackle the housing shortage on Shetland. So says industry body Salmon Scotland, which is calling for action to bring empty homes into use.

Salmon Scotland has previously proposed a reform for the farm licensing system which would see a proportion of the revenues from it, around £10m, ring-fenced for the benefit of coastal and island  communities. The latest suggestion focuses on the need for action to bring more empty homes back into use on Shetland.

Joining the salmon industry in the campaign is the Scottish Empty Homes Partnership. Shaheena Din, national project manager for the Partnership, said: “The figures show that empty homes are very much a problem in Shetland, with over 550 long-term empty properties that could be brought back in to use, increasing supply and providing a boost for the local economy.

“We support the campaign by Salmon Scotland to raise the issue of housing in rural areas and hope that action can be taken in Shetland that will help address the concerns of their members.”

The vast majority – 95% – of homes brought back in to use across Scotland were in areas with a dedicated empty homes service. In Shetland, an estimated 560 homes (5% of the housing stock) lie empty, with around 400 of those having been empty for longer than a year.

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, commented: “The shortage of available, affordable housing in Shetland and other rural communities is a major issue, exacerbated amid the cost-of-living crisis.

“People are struggling to find homes, and businesses are experiencing problems recruiting staff or retaining staff because they’re priced out of the local housing market.

“Councils could explore the options available to them to bring properties back into use.

“We are passionate about supporting the local economies where our farms operate and making rural communities even more attractive places to live and work.”