PEOPLE in Scotland’s Garden County face a wait of nearly 16 years to get their hands on an allotment – the second longest wait in the UK.

A new survey has revealed that East Lothian residents face the longest wait in Scotland for their own vegetable patch, with only the London Borough of Camden taking longer, at more than 17 years.

Despite moves in the county to free up land for aspiring gardeners, the number of plots in use and slow turnover time means people face long waits.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, East Lothian Council’s environment spokesperson, said that the local authority was working with housebuilders to have allotments included in new developments.

He said: “While East Lothian is an area with many households who have their own garden, we recognise changing trends in the way we live have led to an increase in demand for allotments and this is something that will be reviewed as part of the preparation of the next Local Development Plan.”

The latest survey, carried out by MyJobQuote, pulled together information from all 302 local councils in the UK through Freedom of Information requests.

It found that, while the national average wait for an allotment was two years and eight months, in East Lothian it was 15.7 years.

Edinburgh’s average wait was about eight years.

More than 100,000 people in the UK are currently waiting for an allotment and the number of Google searches for allotments in the UK is now 4.5 times higher than before the coronavirus pandemic.

Heather Barrigan, from MyJobQuote, said it was clear that allotments had become more sought after in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdown.

She said: “Throughout the pandemic, more people have discovered their love for gardening and growing their own veg. It’s a great way to feel good and spend time outdoors.

“We were surprised some applicants had had to wait for an allotment, but it just shows how high the demand is.”

East Lothian Council said that its current Local Development Plan (LDP) already recognised the growing need for allotments in the county and its own website acknowledged that local allotment groups in the county had “a lengthy waiting list and a low annual turnover”.

Mr Hampshire said: “At the time of the preparation of the LDP, a study was undertaken into the availability of allotments.

“Arising from this was an identified need for more allotments and so areas were identified through the plan, as part of proposed housing sites.

“When the sites concerned are built out, more allotments will become available.”

Councillor Stuart Currie, SNP Group leader, whose ward Musselburgh is home to an allotment association, said: “Clearly the Local Development Plan was supposed to improve this situation and I very much hope that the council will seek to ensure that allotment provision identified is being delivered sooner rather than later.”