Sunday, 2 January 2011


For Immediate Release Sunday 2nd January 2011





The SNP will move to ensure full devolution of the Crown Estate Commission through amendments to the UK Government’s Scotland Bill if the Tory Government does not act to transfer full responsibility and revenues to Scotland.

Devolving the Crown Estate Commission– in particular its responsibilities and administration for Scotland’s shores would see the Scottish people able to benefit directly from Scotland’s offshore renewable energy boom.

It would also allow the shores and seabed to be managed in the interests of Scotland’s coastal communities rather than the Treasury’s bank account.

The Scottish Government is currently consulting on securing community benefit from offshore renewable developments. Full devolution of the crown estate revenues from leasing the seabed could form a vital part of an energy fund for investing in Scotland’s future.

Despite repeated calls in opposition for the Crown Estate to be devolved the Lib Dems failed to include it in the Scotland Bill. Lord Wallace, one of the Ministers responsible for the bill was an advocate of devolving powers over the Crown Estate, as was the Lib Dem Chief Whip, and the Lib Dem leader in the Scottish Parliament.

The SNP today questioned if the Lib Dems still backed Crown Estate devolution and would vote to include it in the Scotland bill.

If opposition parties support the SNP’s call to make the Scotland Bill better with devolution of the Crown Estate to Scotland the Scottish Parliament could pass a legislative consent motion that called for the Crown Estate to be devolved.

If opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament do not support devolution of the Crown Estate within the Scotland Bill the SNP will put forward amendments in Westminster to the bill.

Confirming the SNP’s intention Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson, a long time campaigner for Scottish control of Crown Estate lands and revenues on and offshore and an advocate of offshore renewable energy said:

“Scotland knows the Scotland bill, like devolution and like our nation can be better.

“Scotland, in particular the highlands and islands, has called for control over her seas and shores for 20 years. Scotland should not have to wait any longer.

“The SNP will pursue through the Scotland Bill the full devolution of the Crown Estate, its land, shores, rights, responsibilities and revenues in Scotland.

“Crown Estate properties would then be Scotland’s properties and our foreshores and seabed could be managed in the interests of the Scottish people, not the London market and the Treasury bank account.

“We are now in the beginnings of an offshore energy boom that requires effective management of our seas and our shores, support for our ports and our harbours and the leasing of our seabed in a way that brings long term benefit to the people and economy of Scotland.

“In 1998 Lord Sewel made clear the decision to reserve the crown estate was connected to regulation of oil and gas, keeping scotland’s hands off Scotland’s oil. The failure of Tory, Lib Dem and Labour to devolve the Crown Estate now Scotland is looking at a second offshore boom raises serious suspicions that once again the UK is seeking to capture Scotland’s

energy windfall keeping the direct benefit away from the people of Scotland.

“All the Scotland Bill offers is consultation over the appointment of a Commissioner for the Crown Estate. That is an appalling offer that insults our communities, our industries and our potential. Coastal and islands communities, our renewable energy industry, our harbours and our fishing fleet know that we can do better for Scotland.

“The SNP will put forward full devolution through the Scottish Parliament and if Holyrood and UK Ministers do not back devolution SNP MPs will put forward amendments in the House of Commons to bring Scotland’s seas into Scottish control.”

SNP MP for Constitutional Affairs Pete Wishart added:

“We are getting used to seeing Lib Dem’s selling Scotland out. They failed to include devolution of the Crown Estate in the Scotland Bill but the SNP will give Lord Wallace, Tavish Scott and their colleagues another chance.

“UK Ministers can either include devolution of Crown Estate in the bill voluntarily or the SNP will move an amendment on it.

“Scotland’s seas and shores should benefit Scotland’s people. That is an essential principle and one the SNP will pursue through Parliament and with the people of Scotland.”


Note to Editors:

1. The value of Crown Estate offshore assets:

• The Crown Estate Scotland report 2010 puts the value of the CEC’s marine assets at £53.8 million, up 17.2% on the previous year.

• The Crown Estate is responsible for approximately half of Scotland’s foreshore and almost the entire seabed out to the 12 nautical-mile limit.

• The Crown Estate also holds rights to renewable energy and gas storage in waters from 12–200 nautical miles offshore adjacent to Scotland.

• In 2009-10 the CEC’s offshore activities in Scotland produced a surplus of £6.8 million

2. In 2006 six local authorities across the Highlands and Islands along with HIE commissioned a report into the operation of the Crown Estate Commission in Scotland. The report which was presented to the Labour and LibDem Scottish Executive concluded: “There are relatively few public benefits in Scotland from the way these Scottish resources are managed at present, most notably the CEC’s management of Scotland’s territorial seabed and continental shelf rights and approximately half of Scotland’s foreshore. The very limited accountability in Scotland over the management of these Scottish resources has also become worse since devolution. “

The full report can be found at

3. Freedom of information requests by Rob Gibson show Orkney council paid over £60,000 in rent to Crown Estates for facilities at piers last year,

Highland council paif over £18,000 and the Scrabster Harbour Trust an average of £24,000 each year since 2003.

4. Lord Sewel – 27th July 1998 – on Crown Estate reservation: I think that it might be helpful if I explain what provision the Bill currently makes for dealing with the ownership and exploitation of the seabed.

“As noble Lords will be aware, the Crown Estate's Scottish interests include ownership of much of the foreshore and the seabed and the mineral resources in the UK Continental Shelf, excluding coal, oil and gas. Under the Bill, the remit and function of the Crown and the Crown Estate Commissioners, would be reserved. However, the property and interests of the Crown Estate would be subject to the Scottish parliament's legislation in such areas as planning law, land law and environmental protection.

One aspect which would not be devolved, however, is the ownership of, exploration for and exploitation of deposits of oil and natural gas. This appears to us to be the most sensible way of allocating responsibility for the seabed. Further offshore, the seabed is, and will continue to be, exploited for its oil and natural gas reserves which lie underneath. That is already a reserved matter. These resources are a UK asset and we believe that they should be regulated on that basis.”

5. Lib Dem support for the devolution of the Crown Estate includes:

Lord Jim Wallace (LD), former Deputy First Minister now Advocate General (4th April 2010)

We have known for some time that Holyrood can legislate on Crown Estate property in matter such as planning.

“But MSPs at Holyrood should certainly examine this report from the Commons Treasury Committee on the management of the Crown Estate and their powers. In addition the next UK Parliament should look at the powers of the Scottish Parliament in light of this report. I certainly endorse the committee’s recommendation that the next Government review the operation

of the Crown Estate. It is long overdue.”

Dr Michael Foxley, leader of Highland Council, said “We have been campaigning for years over the Crown Estate. “Scotland already owns its seabed, now we must be able to manage it in Scotland directly.”

Tavish Scott: 27th April 2007: SEND THE CROWN ESTATE PACKING

Tavish Scott, the Scottish Liberal Democrat Candidate for Shetland, said that the days of the Crown Estate’s control of Shetland’s seabed must be numbered. Tavish Scott recently met the author of the major report into the Crown Estate’s powers, Robin Callander, to discuss how to achieve local control.

Tavish Scott said, “The Crown Estate’s control of Shetland’s seabed, and the taxes they levy on Shetland, are unacceptable. They tax our aquaculture industry and our harbours and marinas. They even seek Royalty payments when a harbour authority wants to dredge the seabed to improve navigation and to offset the cost by using the dredged material elsewhere.

And, with marine renewable projects in the offing, they will control and tax the wave and tidal power developments and the cables which bring the power ashore.

“The time has come for control of the seabed to be passed from London to the communities who depend on the coastal waters. I will be working with Isles MP, Alistair Carmichael, so that the UK Marine Bill can include measures to give Shetland back control of its seabed. To an island community, the seabed is a vital resource. How it is best used, and how to sort out the conflicting interests of different groups – fishermen, fish farmers, leisure sailors, environmentalists and new industries - is something best dealt with in Shetland.”

Tavish Scott: 24th May 2007: CROWN ESTATE AND THE SEABED

Tavish Scott said, “There has been a lot of talk in Parliament this week from the minority Executive about building consensus on individual issues. I hope that, in that spirit, they will offer their support to Liberal Democrats and others arguing the case for Scotland’s seabed to be removed from the control of the Crown Estate. I also hope Labour MSPs will support
my motion to put pressure on London Labour Ministers who are currently showing little sign of agreeing to the proposal.”

S3M-00074 Tavish Scott (Shetland) (Scottish Liberal Democrats): The Crown Estate and Scotland's Seabed— That the Parliament notes the importance to Scotland of the seas around its shores, which support fishing, aquaculture, tourism and marine transport industries, and increasingly will support Scotland’s growing marine renewable energy industry; further

notes that the control of the seabed remains with the Crown Estate which controls most marine developments and levies charges for the use of the seabed; believes that, if Scotland’s coastal and island communities are to be sustained and Scotland’s marine renewable energy potential is to be developed for the maximum benefit of Scotland, control of the seabed should pass to democratically accountable Scottish authorities, and therefore further believes that the opportunity presented by the proposed UK Marine Bill to devolve control of Scotland’s seabed to Scotland should be taken and that, in the meantime, the Scottish Executive should examine

the conclusions of the Crown Estate Review Working Group in order to use every opportunity to use devolved powers to maximise Scotland’s influence over the operation of the Crown Estate in Scotland.

Supported by: Mr Liam McArthur, Mr Jamie Stone, John Farquhar Munro

Lodged on Thursday, May 24, 2007; Not Current as of Tuesday, September 25,


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