Sustainable local land use policy: rhetoric and reality

This study examined trends in population redistribution and residential land use changes in northeast Scotland during 1988 to 2003. We utilised a geographical information system (GIS) tool to bring together data from interrelated sources and to analyse population settlement and land use changes at detailed spatial scale. This analysis revealed that substantial land conversion had taken place in the region; particularly conversion of agricultural lands to built-up and residential areas. It also drew attention to policy conflicts, discrepancies between policy rhetoric and policy implementations. More specifically, it was shown that substantial farm land conversion had taken place in suburban areas and rural Aberdeenshire with little change in the size of derelict land in Aberdeen City. The reason given for this was that it was costly to rehabilitate and reuse derelict lands and this conflicted with the objective of providing affordable housing in the City region. The implication of this study is that if the declared policy objectives of integrated and sustainable land use and transport policies are to be achieved, then local authorities may need to cooperate to minimise conflicts between economic and environmental objectives.