THE Scottish Government is offering property developers 100% rate relief on commercial new-build sites which don't get let.

It is hoped the offer, which will run for three years, will boost speculative development and investment. It covers empty properties built from April and can be claimed for 18 months.

David Lonsdale, assistant director of CBI Scotland, welcomed the initiative but said: "The Scottish Government should go much further and think afresh about their previous decision, due to come into effect in April, which will penalise the majority of firms with empty premises to the tune of £36 million in additional business rates over the next two years."

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Scottish Chambers of Commerce chief executive Liz Cameron said: "The plan to reduce the value of relief on business rates bills for empty properties is misguided and will damage the capacity of our town centres to adapt to changing economic and social trends."