Scottish Government Criticizes Crown Estate’s Plans for Coastal Communities Fund

SCOTTISH Environment Secretary, Richard Lochhead has criticized the UK Government’s plans for a coastal communities fund saying that it “falls well short of the need for fundamental reform of how the Crown Estate in Scotland is managed”.

Following widespread calls to devolve control of the Crown Estate – led by the Scottish Government – the UK Government has announced plans for a new fund, equivalent to 50 per cent of the revenues taken by the Crown Estate in Scotland from marine developments.

 Mr Lochhead said: “The Scottish Government and many others have been pressing the UK for full devolution of the Crown Estate in Scotland, so that local communities can receive substantial benefits from the offshore renewable energy opportunities being exploited on their doorsteps. This was a key election issue, and has since been endorsed by the Scottish Parliament.

 “It is good that the UK Government has finally woken up to these demands – however this measure does not go nearly far enough. Scotland should benefit from 100 per cent of Crown Estate revenues, not 50 per cent. Full devolution of Crown Estate would give the people of Scotland a say in how public assets are used, rather than leaving decisions to the unelected commissioners who manage the Crown Estate.

 “In recent months we have provided the Secretary of State for Scotland with two detailed papers setting out the clear and rational case for change. However, despite this, Scottish Ministers were not consulted on these latest, timid proposals. If UK Ministers had had the courtesy to do so they would have been informed that these proposals are clearly inadequate.

 “Under these plans Crown Estate revenues would still go south to Her Majesty’s Treasury, with Scotland only getting half of our entitlement. However, were the Scottish Government and Parliament to have full control of the Crown Estate, we would go much further by investing revenues directly back in to local communities.

 “Contrary to the spirit of self-government, Crown Estate Commissioners grant offshore leases and can even sell off the seabed, all without any requirement to consult the Scottish Parliament. Our progressive plans for the Crown Estate have cross-party support, the support of Scotland’s Parliament, and are designed to benefit local communities while helping Scotland meet our challenging green energy goals. Scotland cannot be side-tracked in these aims by this timid measure from Westminster.”

 Finance Secretary John Swinney also commented saying: “We welcome the fact that Scotland’s coastal communities will now benefit from their own resources, but it is only because of pressure from the Scottish Government that Westminster is taking any action on this issue, and this paltry announcement does not go nearly far enough.

 “The Treasury has hit Scotland’s offshore oil and gas industry with a £2 billion tax grab and is also withholding around £200 million of Scotland’s money in the form of the Fossil Fuel Levy – now they appear to be trying to buy off Scotland’s coastal communities by offering them only 50 per cent of their own resources. Those communities need to benefit from all of the money raised from Crown Estate revenues in Scottish waters – not just the half the UK Government is offering.

 “This is Scotland’s money, and devolving full responsibility for the Crown Estate and its revenues to the Scottish Parliament is vital if Scotland is to make the most of our vast offshore renewable energy potential. The UK Government must also release the £200 million held in the Fossil Fuel Levy to allow much-needed investment in marine renewables.”

The Crown Estate Commissioners in Scotland manage the sea bed up to 12 miles from shore as well as the foreshore and some on-land assets. Scotland is estimated to have around a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal resource, 10 per cent of European wave energy potential and the EU’s largest capacity for offshore storage of carbon dioxide.



Source: fishnewseu, July 22, 2011;